Kathleen Funchion, Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, has urged the government to do much more to help apprentices hit by the cost of living crisis.
Her comments came as Sinn Féin launched the results of its survey of apprentices, which gathered the views of almost 350 apprentices about their experiences of pay and working conditions and backlogs in accessing training.
"The results of this survey expose the shocking way in which apprentices have been let down by this government," Teachta Funchion said.
"Apprentices do highly-skilled work in much-needed industries including construction. Their work is vital for ensuring major housing projects including retrofitting can go ahead.
"Despite the crucial role that apprentices and tradespeople play, the government has abandoned them and failed to deliver adequate support. Apprentices are being badly hit by the cost of living crisis. Despite working full-time, many apprentices are on very low pay often below minimum wage. This means they are being put under huge financial pressure by rising costs."
According to the survey, 84% of apprentices told Sinn Féin that they have had to cut down on essentials such as buying groceries or turning the heating on. 72% report having had to take on debt since the start of their apprenticeship. 96% felt the government was not doing enough to help apprentices.
Almost half of all apprentices surveyed said they are worried they may have to give up their apprenticeship, simply because they cannot afford to keep going.
Many apprentices also highlighted how major delays in progressing their apprenticeship are also hitting their pockets hard.
"Years of underinvestment has left a shortage of capacity in the system," added Teachta Funchion.
"Only 1,798 apprentices became fully qualified tradespeople in 2021. That is close to 600 fewer than in 2020 and represents the lowest number of newly qualified tradespeople since 2017."
The Kilkenny TD has called on the government 'to wake up to the reality of what life is like for apprentices in Ireland and act urgently to ensure that they get a much-needed break from the cost of living crisis'.
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