Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle calls for all aspects of apprenticeship training to be available locally

Pringle calls for all aspects of apprenticeship training to be available locally

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has called for all aspects of apprenticeship training to be available locally, as he welcomed plans for further development of apprenticeship services at Atlantic Technological University Donegal and Donegal Education and Training Board.

Deputy Pringle raised the issue of apprenticeships in the Dáil on Tuesday evening, during Oral Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Deputy Pringle said: “This question is in relation to the off-the-job training for apprentices in the Donegal region, to see what the situation is and what the plans are, and the potential for the ATU in Donegal to provide some of those facilities as well.”

The deputy also asked whether there were further plans to increase the number of apprenticeships and whether they could be extended into other areas.

In his response, Minister Niall Collins said that since 2021, workshop facilities at Donegal ETB have grown from seven to 10. He said more instructors have been brought in, that enabled phase 2 training capacity to double, from 190 in 2021 to 390 this year. Further capacity growth to 420 is expected in 2025, he said.

The Minister said ATU Donegal provides phases 4 and 6 off-the-job electrical apprenticeship training and capacity has grown by almost 170%, from 144 in the 2022-2023 academic year to 384 in the 2024-2025 academic year. This was accompanied by an increase in instructor staff from 5 to 12, he said.

He said that over 2025, ATU Donegal is planning to hire a further 17 staff to expand provision for electrical and start provision for refrigeration and air conditioning, metal fabrication, industrial electrical engineering and civil engineering.

The Minister said that in response to future skills needs, ATU Donegal is also working on the development of a new apprenticeship in marine engineering and Donegal ETB is working on a new welding apprenticeship.

Deputy Pringle said: “That is welcome in relation to the ongoing apprenticeships because there is a need for apprenticeships to be able to be accessed locally, and for all aspects of the training to be carried out locally as well. Because I know that apprentices have had to travel to Cork, Dundalk and Dublin to do the college part of their apprenticeship.

“It would be useful if they could stay in Donegal and do their whole training there, because I think that would be very important and would lead to an improved apprenticeship service.

“The announcement that you’ve made in relation to the recruitment of staff for the ATU to develop that training service is very welcome, and I hope to see that continue,” he said.