Labour Is Committed To Enhanced and Expanded Apprenticeship System

February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Government is fully committed to renewing and significantly expanding the apprenticeship system in Ireland – that was my message to the gathering today at ESB Networks Training Centre of Excellence in Portlaoise where the ESB announced plans to recruit 300 new apprentices in the coming years.

ESB has been training apprentices and staff in its dedicated facility in Portlaoise for 45 years, The 300 apprenticeships announced today are a continuation of that tradition but also mark the start of quality careers in the Energy sector for many young people.

I believe companies such as ESB clearly demonstrate the value that apprenticeships deliver to our economic and social recovery. Apprenticeships are an investment in the future and they are one of the most important investments a company can make. Having a skilled, motivated workforce is increasingly important in a global competitive economy and the apprenticeship model provides that. Not only do apprentices learn the skills necessary to be part of innovative company, they also develop a loyalty to the company and an appreciation of its contribution to the wider society. Many of us only get an insight into that esprit de corps when crews work in all types of weathers to restore electricity supplies, but the foundation for that dedication and commitment begins in places like the ESB Networks Centre of Excellence and the whole country benefits from it.

Speaking at the event An Tanaiste Joan Burton said, “The announcement today by ESB is very positive news. It is a win-win for the company and future employees. These apprenticeships will ensure that ESB has the skilled staff necessary to fulfil the crucial role it plays in Ireland’s economy and society. For the apprentices they are guaranteed high-quality training, good pay and conditions and the opportunity to contribute to one of Ireland’s most valued and innovative semi-state companies.

“The Government is currently involved in a radical renewal of the apprenticeship model. For too long apprenticeships have been undervalued. The fact that Ireland has a world beating reputation for its young skilled apprentices hardly merits a mention in many quarters. That needs to change.

“As a Government we want to see an expanded and enhanced role for the apprenticeship model. This will have two main strategies – firstly reviewing the apprenticeships currently available to ensure that they measure up to the rapidly evolving 21st century workplace and secondly exploring with industry and other stakeholders the sectors that would benefit from the apprenticeship model and launching new apprenticeships in those areas. This work is already underway and will be a key feature of Government employment policy in 2015 and beyond,” stated Minister Burton.

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, said, “Recent years have seen a very positive growth in the numbers of registered apprentices. SOLAS are projecting nearly 3000 new apprentices this year, more than double the rate seen in 2012. This is a welcome development and I am glad to announce today that my Department will spend an additional €10m in 2015 to ensure that our current apprentices get the most up-to-date training in their specialist areas. By the summer, I am also looking forward to receiving the report of the recently established Apprenticeship Council, chaired by Pat O’Doherty. This report will pave the way for new types of apprenticeships to be developed by the end of the year.”

€150,000 Investment In Public Transport Projects for Dublin South

February 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

I warmly welcome the recent allocation of €150,000 in Government grants to sustainable transport projects in Dublin South.  €100,000 of this money will go towards the design of a primary cycle route from Hillcrest Road in Sandyford along the Drummartin/Clonskeagh Route to Dublin City, including connections to and through UCD Belfield.  Meanwhile, a further €50,000 will be spent on the completion of the design for improved pedestrian access into Dundrum Town Centre from Balally LUAS stop.  This will include improvements to Dundrum Road, and connections to Wychkam Way.

This is yet another good example of the targeted and practical use of public funds to enhance the day-to-day life of people in our communities.

These projects will encourage more and more people to walk or cycle to work, school or the shops.  This not only has incredible health benefits, but also helps ease traffic congestion and pollution. Reducing traffic and improving infrastructure so people can walk or cycle means healthier societies and nicer environments for us to live and work in.

The investment in the Sandyford to City Centre cycle route will also go some way to improving safety for cyclists on the route, particularly those commuting to the City Centre and students attending UCD.

Council Argument on Pool Doesn’t Hold Water

February 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

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This week, I voiced my concerns about claims by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council that the age profile of the Stillorgan area could present challenges for the future sustainability of Glenalbyn Swimming Pool.

The argument put forward that an ageing population is an impediment to the redevelopment of Glenalbyn Swimming Pool just doesn’t hold any water.  Given the worryingly high rates of obesity in our over-50s, a local swimming pool for the people of the greater Stillorgan area is equally important for those in middle-age as it is for children.

Swimming has incredible health benefits and it is critical that as people between 45 and 54 age, they are encouraged by local authorities to take part in such physical activity.

CSO figures show that those aged 45-54 in Stillorgan outnumber those between 0-10 by 29%.  It is crucial that the pool’s development is progressed so this group can feel the full benefits into old age.

It is counterintuitive to say that an ageing population should be a barrier to the pool’s development.  We needn’t look further than the Council’s own amenities in Meadowbrook to see that our older citizens regularly make great use of the swimming facilities on offer.  It is a vital resource for older people who can continue swimming long after they move on from other sporting activity.

 

New School Development for Goatstown/Stillorgan

February 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Stillorgan (2)

The Minister for Education and Skills, today announced that a new primary school for the Goatstown/Stillorgan area is to be established by September 2016.

This development recognises the increasing demographic pressure on the existing infrastructure in Goatstown/Stillorgan and demonstrates this Government’s delivery on its commitment to prioritise new schools and to invest in our children’s education.

This is the sixth major educational investment in Dublin South since our Government took office in 2011.

Patrons can apply to run the new school.  The criteria to be used in deciding on patronage of the new school will place an emphasis on parental demand for plurality and diversity.  The process will be carried out later this year.

This approach emphasises this Government’s commitment to moving towards a more pluralist system of patronage at primary level.

Nearly 1,000 Jobs Announced In Dublin South in Last Four Months

February 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

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I was happy to note this week that following on from Leopardstown-based ICON plc’s jobs development, confirmed last Friday, nearly 1,000 jobs have now been announced for the Dublin South constituency in the past four months alone

This highlights the growing economic recovery at both a local and national level and shows that Government initiatives are working.

The continuing jobs recovery is further demonstrated by today’s (4 February) news that Eircom will create 375 jobs for apprentices and graduates over the next five years.

This is excellent news for school and college-leavers and is another sign of the progress we are making both nationally and locally in generating good jobs for young people.

As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I’m pleased to see Eircom progress its first large-scale recruitment programme in nearly 30 years.

I understand applications for this year’s programmes are now open, and will close on 6 March 2015.

Since coming into Government in March 2011, the number of under-25s on the Live Register in Nutgrove has reduced by 44%, while there has been a 41% decrease in unemployment for under-25s nationally from 81,356 to 47,928.

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