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Minister Harris announces fund for Travellers in Apprenticeships

8 November 2022 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Tuesday) announced the roll-out of €450,000 in funding to support members of the Traveller community to access apprenticeships.

Traveller-Apprenticeship

The funding will be used for a one-year pilot Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme, which is aimed at both increased uptake of and retention on apprenticeships.

The Programme will be structured across three streams:

  • Stream 1- €3,000 bursary each for 25 Travellers who are employed as new apprentices and €2,000 incentive payment each for their employers. 
  • Stream 2- €3,000 bursary each for 25 existing Traveller apprentices.
  • Stream 3- €3,000 bursary each for 25 Travellers to access pre-apprenticeship and Access to Apprenticeship programmes.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Whilst an apprenticeship is a paid employment contract, there are associated costs, such as tools or PPE, for apprentices. Additional funding would help socio-economically disadvantaged apprentices with such costs. “Equally, there may are costs for younger Travellers in accessing pre-apprenticeship and Access to Apprenticeship programmes. They may be reliant on public transport and having some funding towards this as well as supports for learning to drive would help them. “I am delighted that the project has the committed support of the Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point, the National Apprenticeship Office and the national Access to Apprenticeship Programme. The experience and knowledge of these partners has helped shape the Programme and they will be engaged in its delivery during the year.”

Bernard Joyce Director Irish Traveller Movement said: “We welcome today's announcement by Minister Simon Harris in supporting National Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme to further advance Traveller uptake and retention in apprenticeships, and putting in place a national outreach strategic approach for the first time is an important step in creating further opportunities for Travellers within employment and we look forward to supporting the roll-out of this initiative.”

Welcoming today's announcement of the launch of a Traveller apprenticeship initiative, Martin Collins, Co-Director of Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, said: “We know from our work that there is considerable community interest but also significant and ongoing barriers for Traveller access to, participation in, and outcomes from apprenticeship programmes.

“The road to equality for Travellers in all areas of education and training is beset by embedded barriers and discrimination. The targeted initiative launched today, along with data and monitoring processes, can have the potential to move some of them.”

Mary-Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office, said: “Access and inclusion are cornerstones in our expansion of the national apprenticeship system.

“We hope that these targeted supports will make a real difference and make it attractive and viable for Travellers of all ages and backgrounds to choose the apprenticeship route to careers and qualifications. We look forward to working with the Traveller community and all partners to make the initiative a success.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

Background:

The Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 promotes general access, diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship by offering targeted supports to encourage participation from under-represented groups such as Travellers. One of the Plan’s main objectives is “apprenticeship for all”, whereby the apprenticeship population better represents the national population.

Whilst there are no confirmed numbers of Travellers currently registered as apprentices, given that only 2,112 (less than 20%) of Travellers were employed in 2016, it is estimated that they make up less than 80 of the more than 24,200 apprentices currently registered.      Noting that apprenticeship is a method for obtaining qualifications through work-based learning and involves a contract of employment from the start, it offers many opportunities, particularly for those who are at risk of socio-economic disadvantage. Recognising the marginalised place of Travellers within wider Irish society, it is therefore proposed to establish a one-year pilot Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme, a proposal that accords with the education, training and employment goals of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and the National Youth Justice Strategy 2021 – 27. The Programme is aimed at both increased uptake of and retention on apprenticeships.

Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme:

There are three streams to the Programme:

  • Stream 1- €3,000 bursary for 25 Travellers who are employed as new apprentices. This would be in addition to their agreed remuneration for the apprenticeship they register for and could be reckonable for tax purposes. €2,000 incentive payment for the employers of the 25 Traveller apprentices, per apprentice. This would be subject to de minimis State aid rules.  • Stream 2- €3,000 bursary for 25 existing Traveller apprentices. This would be in addition to their agreed remuneration for the apprenticeship they register for and could be reckonable for tax purposes. • Stream 3- €3,000 bursary for 25 Travellers to access pre-apprenticeship and Access to Apprenticeship programmes. This would be in addition to any other remuneration they receive and could be reckonable for tax purposes. A bursary incentivisation for access and pre-apprenticeship programmes will lessen the fear that engaging with education and training will result in the loss of social welfare benefits. This is an issue which is highlighted by the Joint Committee on Key Issues Affecting the Traveller Community, and a consideration that can deter participation from the outset on programmes supporting entry into apprenticeship.

Four support measures will also be provided through the funding:

  1. National Apprenticeship Outreach Officer- This person would be seconded to a Traveller organisation to work nationally in terms of raising awareness of the Programme, supporting participation and establishing strong linkages between Travellers, employers and education and training providers. The need for this role was informed by Traveller organisations as an effective and necessary approach to support uptake of the initiative, which recognises the need for on the ground outreach given the level of marginalisation of Travellers in mainstream education, training and employment sectors, and indeed society as a whole.
  2. Outreach costs- In addition to the National Apprenticeship Outreach Officer, outreach efforts are required to establish meaningful and productive relationships between Travellers, education and training providers and employers. Activities will include developing an outreach strategy, hosting outreach events across the year, travel costs for Travellers to the events, and other supports costs for Travellers.
  3. Promotion costs- Building on supports 1 and 2, it is proposed to engage in targeted promotion to raise awareness of the initiative among the Traveller community, including within second level schools and centres.
  4. Administration costs- Pobal will be assigned to administer and manage the Programme, including staged payments for all recipients. They will also evaluate the pilot afterwards, to measure impact and capture learnings for future programmes.