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Councillor Gabriel Keating has called on Clare County Council to create more apprenticeship opportunities for young people.

Keating looks to the stars to steer Clare County Council


Councillor urges creation of more apprenticeship roles

A WEST Clare councillor forecast success in the stars, as he called on the local authority to create more opportunities for apprentices.
Councillor Gabriel Keating, with permission from the Mayor, read his horoscope at the December Council meeting.
The prediction, he said, was that “a dynamic influence can add extra sparkle to your social life and community activities’.
He then called on the authority to “expand its role in this regard with the initiation of the process for recruitment of apprenticeships into the trades and green skills”.
These would include opportunities for carpenters, block layers, plasterers, plumbers, fitters, mechanics, electricians, retrofitting personnel, alternative energy technicians, and others.
The Fine Gael member said the measure would help the Council retrofit its housing stock.
There was a generally positive response, with Mayor of Clare, Councillor PJ Ryan describing the motion as “fantastic”. Councillor Donna McGettigan said she would like to see more women taking up apprenticeships and that the motion offered a real chance to promote trades.
Councillor Paul Murphy noted that he had raised a motion with a similar aim, and he commended his party colleague for keeping it on the agenda.
The focus on green energy was welcomed by Councillor Cillian Murphy: “The Loop Head Peninsula is our decarbonising zone and I think there’s a real opportunity to tie in with the wind energy and all of the stuff that will be happening offshore,” he said.
Councillor Pat Daly noted that many students don’t go on to college: “It’s important these students are helped out by Clare County Council or by employers.”
The example of the German education system was cited by Councillor Pat McMahon who noted that those taking degrees often take apprenticeships too.
“It’s the powerhouse of Europe and it often amazes me why we haven’t learned from Germany,” he said.
As someone working in the industry, Councillor Joe Cooney described the motion as “timely”.
“We’re all well aware that in the early 2000s, we had the Celtic Tiger and when it disappeared we had the recession and unfortunately, we lost an awful lot of apprentices,” he said.
“I’ve had people contacting me at different times to see if I would know of young people that would get involved in trades.
“I have tried young people in my area, but most of them want to go to third level college, so my belief is that’s where we need to start the work, because if we don’t, it’s going to be very, very serious going forward.”
After having spent some time as a secondary school teacher, Councillor Mark Nestor agreed that young people needed to be informed about apprenticeships.
“I think it’s important that we do have a conversation with schools that we try to encourage young people if they want to take up trades,” he said.
Support for the motion also came from Councillor Gerry Flynn said there were opportunities to promote social inclusion.
“There are a lot of people who would like to engage with trades,” he said. “We have to try to embrace people who want to work.”
As a former apprentice himself, Councillor John Crowe supported the motion.
“When I went for an apprenticeship in my trade, you had to pay, would you believe, at that stage,” he said.
“There were so many looking for apprenticeships. You had to pay for five years. This is a very important motion for our county and our country.”
CEO, Mr Pat Dowling said the authority would take Councillor Keating’s motion on board.
A written response from Noeleen Fitzgerald, Director of Finances noted that the council recently participated in briefings on the new ‘Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025’.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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