Northern Ireland Recession hits apprenticeships

3rd July 2009 at 01:00

One thousand five hundred apprentices have been made redundant in Northern Ireland since last September, a six-month inquiry by the Assembly has found.

The employment and learning committee has reported that although apprenticeships are vital to improving the local economy, they are among the first cuts made by businesses during a recession.

The inquiry investigated why the schemes are not valued in terms of status and profile and why they are not more widespread.

Assembly members said during a debate last week that apprenticeships needed to be better focused on the needs of business, but agreed that an effort must be made to boost their image as a career pathway equal to higher education.

Sue Ramsey, chair of the committee, said: "Apprenticeships are vital to the development of skills needed by our workforce to compete in the global economy. We particularly need to find ways to encourage small and medium enterprises to take on apprentices as these businesses make up the bulk of our private sector."

The committee's recommendations will be presented to Sir Reg Empey, Employment and Learning Minister. mr.

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