29/06/2004

Construction apprentices get employment boost

Two hundred young apprentices will get the chance to learn their trade on local construction sites over the next two years, through an initiative launched today by the government.

Employment and Learning Minister, Barry Gardiner and Social Development Minister, John Spellar confirmed final arrangements of the partnership between the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the Construction Employers’ Federation (CEF).

The deal will see a number of major companies from throughout Northern Ireland employ an additional 200 young people as apprentices.

The £300 million Victoria Square development will be among the first construction sites in Northern Ireland to benefit from the new apprenticeship scheme, with up to 3,000 jobs available during construction at the site.

Highlighting the benefits of the partnership, Mr Gardiner said: "I warmly welcome this initiative. It will ensure the construction sector in Northern Ireland has sufficient skills to meet future demand at a time when we are spending £222million building better schools.

"The fact that it will enable unemployed young people in areas of social disadvantage to have access to job opportunities created is a significant plus factor. Now we need to roll out similar apprenticeship schemes in other sectors of industry."

Mr Spellar added: "I look forward to the success of this challenging initiative and would wish to acknowledge the key role to date of the Construction Employers Federation and the pivotal part to be played by all the participating employers.

"This very exciting initiative will be an enormous boost both for the construction industry in Northern Ireland and for young people, especially those living in proximity to the new developments Government is supporting."

Young people entering the initiative will undergo an initial five-week pre-employment, off-the-job induction module to equip them with basic health and safety awareness, assess their employability skills and test aptitude for their chosen trade.

On successful completion of the induction module, they will commence a Modern Apprenticeship with their sponsor company.

The initiative will be supported under DEL’s Jobskills Modern Apprenticeship programme and also Peace II funding from Europe.

(MB)

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