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Would you like to work in Leinster House? A new apprenticeship programme could be on the way

Apprenticeships could be offered in parliamentary affairs, public administration and political communications.

Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin.
Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE FIRST EVER apprenticeship scheme for Leinster House is being considered by the Oireachtas Commission.

Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne said the Oireachtas could offer apprenticeships in the areas of parliamentary affairs, public administration and political communications.

“An apprenticeship programme for positions in the Houses of the Oireachtas would have a transformative effect. It will open up access to people from other backgrounds, who are currently under-represented across the two Houses, and it will boost the prestige of the apprenticeship system itself,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“It would open up politics to non-degree holders, as there are a lot of graduates working there at the moment,” he added.

In January, Education Minister Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan launched the government’s plan to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in Ireland, aimed at delivering 50,000 registrations by 2020.

Apprenticeship programmes

There are currently 27 apprenticeships in Ireland, in areas such as construction, engineering and the motor sector.

However, other countries like Germany, which have over 300 apprenticeships on offer, have much broader options across a wide range of sectors.

Traditionally in Ireland, apprenticeship schemes have focused on trades, however, Byrne said there is no reason why there should not be programmes available in administration, business and communications.

0720 FF special education needs_90504678 Fianna Fáuil's Thomas Byrne (centre) with Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and John Lahart. Source: Leah Farrell

“We need to get that message out there, and this would be a good way to go about it,” he said, adding:

The Houses of Parliament in Britain already run apprenticeship and placements that offer practical on-the-job training. We should be doing the same in Ireland by providing access to people who don’t have a relevant degree, or political connections, to work in the Dáil and Seanad, thus enabling them to pursue further education or career progression in public affairs.

The idea is that trainees will learn skills and get hands on experience while embedded in enterprises and orgranisations.

It’s envisaged that the new parliamentary apprenticeships would be developed in partnership with a recognised third-level institution, and validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

Byrne said the idea has received a warm welcome from Minister Halligan. The proposal to establish the new scheme is being examined by Oireachtas human resources, while possible improvements to the operation of the internship programme in the Houses is also being examined.

A paper on the proposals will be brought to the Commission for consideration.

“It is great the idea is being looked, it’s not going to happen overnight, but I think it would be a positive move for all in Leinster House,” said Byrne.

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