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Ó Murchadha, E and Murphy, R (2016) Rethinking Apprenticeship Training for the Construction Industry in Ireland. In: Chan, P W and Neilson, C J (Eds.), Proceedings 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2016, Manchester UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 373–382.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: Apprenticeship, Education, Employment, Ireland, Skills.
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9955463-0-1
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/c9b57f1647f5c6887c428de3038ba3a9.pdf
  • Abstract:

    The construction industry is of strategic importance to any economy, as it delivers the building and infrastructural needs of society; it is also a major provider of employment. In Ireland, the over-reliance on construction contributed to the collapse of the economy as a whole with employment in construction falling to under 50% of its 2007 peak. The decline devastated apprentice training with a reduction in excess of 90% of new registrations of construction apprentices witnessed at its worst point in the recession.

    The implication of this to the industry is disquieting, given that apprenticeships play such a critical role within the sector. The Irish model of apprentice training, exalted as a model of excellence when economic drivers were favourable, has been shown to be over reliant upon employer stability and new apprentice registrations in order for it to flourish.

    In 2013, the Irish Government announced a long overdue review of apprenticeships, in order to address concerns. Though this review extolled the virtues of apprenticeships and recommendation their expansion, as a paradigm of education into other industries, it failed to address the labour market issues and associated technological and curricula needs of the construction industry.

    With the industry finally in recovery, it faces a knowledge and skills deficit which has the potential to leave it unable to respond to future continued growth. The need for change within the current apprenticeship training system is thus imperative.

    This paper critically analyses international best practice in apprentice training, benchmarking the Irish system against it and concludes by highlighting aspects that require consideration to futureproof apprenticeship training against severe cyclical fluctuation.