Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is launching a €750,000 campaign to increase the number of construction workers in Ireland.
Central to the plan is an ‘Ireland needs you’ style advertisement to the diaspora, calling them home to help build homes.
Minister Harris, who is in Washington DC today, says 50,000 new entrants to the construction sector need to be recruited to meet the government’s housing goals.
Donegal County Councillor Donal ‘Mandy’ Kelly has welcomed the Minister’s plans to address the lack of skilled workers.
Cllr Kelly said: “This is a very positive move especially here in Donegal where we have the enormous amount of families suffering from the mica crisis and workers are scarce on the ground.
“I’m delighted to see the first steps being taken for the campaign to help push housing plans forward.”
Cllr Kelly tabled a motion with Donegal County Council last month calling for action to make apprenticeships more attractive in Donegal to entice more young people to train in skills such as Block Laying, Carpentry,
Electrical, Plastering, Plumbing, Technical Design etc.
Speaking at the meeting in Lifford, Cllr Kelly commented that contractors are having difficulty recruiting workers when young tradespeople are heading for Australia, Canada, England and America.
He called on the council to engage with Minister for Education Norma Foley, the Minister for Further and
Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D and SOLAS on improving pay for apprentices.
Cllr Kelly said: “People aren’t going down the road of apprenticeships because it simply isn’t attractive enough. With the cost of living so high, people simply can’t afford the money to carry out an apprenticeship programme and this has to change.
“We will need as many skilled workers as possible to help with the rebuild of Mica homes.”
Cllr Kelly said that apprenticeships have been a good alternative route for young people to take to a career.
“The papers for an apprenticeship are very easy carried. I fear now that the younger generation are not getting a fair crack at the whip in this regard,” he said.
Cllr Kelly called for a forum to have a discussion with employers and higher education institutions to proactively examine the issues and opportunities in Donegal.
He added: “I hope now for a positive outcome because there’s no doubt about it, we need skilled workers here in Donegal. Every week a lot of our youth are getting on buses and planes and leaving the country and it’s something we need to try to stop. It’s challenging but if we can make apprenticeships attractive I do believe more youth will stay and get their papers there will be plenty of work in the years ahead.”