The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has announced the roll-out of €450,000 in funding to support members of the Traveller community to access apprenticeships.
The Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 promotes general access, diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship by offering targeted supports to encourage participation from under-represented groups such as Travellers. One of the Plan’s main objectives is “apprenticeship for all”, whereby the apprenticeship population better represents the national population.
Whilst there are no confirmed numbers of Travellers currently registered as apprentices, given that only 2,112 (less than 20%) of Travellers were employed in 2016, it is estimated that they make up less than 80 of the more than 24,200 apprentices currently registered.
Recognising the marginalised place of Travellers within wider Irish society, it is therefore proposed to establish a one-year pilot Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme, a proposal that accords with the education, training and employment goals of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and the National Youth Justice Strategy 2021 – 27.
The funding will be used for a 1-year pilot Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme, which is aimed at both increased uptake of apprenticeships and retention of apprenticeships.
The Programme will be structured across 3 streams.
€3,000 bursary each for 25 Travellers who are employed as new apprentices and €2,000 incentive payment each for their employers.
€3,000 bursary each for 25 existing Traveller apprentices.
€3,000 bursary each for 25 Travellers to access pre-apprenticeship and Access to Apprenticeship programmes.
Speaking at the announcement, Minister Harris said:
“Whilst an apprenticeship is a paid employment contract, there are associated costs, such as tools or PPE, for apprentices. Additional funding would help socio-economically disadvantaged apprentices with such costs.
“Equally, there may be costs for younger Travellers in accessing pre-apprenticeship and Access to Apprenticeship programmes. They may be reliant on public transport and having some funding towards this as well as supports for learning to drive would help them.
“I am delighted that the project has the committed support of the Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point, the National Apprenticeship Office and the national Access to Apprenticeship Programme. The experience and knowledge of these partners has helped shape the Programme and they will be engaged in its delivery during the year.”
Bernard Joyce, Director of the Irish Traveller Movement said:
“We welcome today’s announcement by Minister Simon Harris in supporting National Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme to further advance Traveller uptake and retention in apprenticeships and putting in place a national outreach strategic approach for the first time is an important step in creating further opportunities for Travellers within employment and look forward to supporting the roll-out of this initiative.”
Welcoming today’s announcement of the launch of a Traveller apprenticeship initiative, Martin Collins, Co-Director of Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, said:
“We know from our work that there is considerable community interest but also significant and ongoing barriers for Traveller access to, participation in, and outcomes from apprenticeship programmes.
“The road to equality for Travellers in all areas of education and training is beset by embedded barriers and discrimination. The targeted initiative launched today, along with data and monitoring processes, can have the potential to move some of them.”
Mary-Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office, said:
“Access and inclusion are cornerstones in our expansion of the national apprenticeship system.
“We hope that these targeted supports will make a real difference and make it attractive and viable for Travellers of all ages and backgrounds to choose the apprenticeship route to careers and qualifications. We look forward to working with the Traveller community and all partners to make the initiative a success.”