The plight of Irish apprentices who have to pay training fees at Institutes of Technology was raised at Clonmel Borough Council this month.
In a cost-saving measure introduced in the Budget last October, and implemented at the start of January, apprentices attending their ten-week training course in Instututes of Technology are now required to pay fees ranging from €833.
It is understood that Ireland is the only state in the European Union that has imposed such charges on apprentices, who do not receive a grant while in college.
Cllr. Gabrielle Egan received support from councillors to ask the Ministers for Finance and Education to overturn this decision.
“Since the announcement a large numer of apprentices and TEEU (Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union) members have received notification that they have to hand over €833 for their ten weeks at the institute,” she said.
“A lot of these apprentices are not 16 anymore, a lot are adults, they pay PRSI, the Universal Social Charge and they cannot avail of a grant. Now they are being asked to pay more money, while they are putting money into the economy,” she added.
Cllr. Niall Dennehy was the only council member who said he did not have a problem with the introduction of fees, because people had to make an investment in their future. But he agreed that the unavailability of a student grant, or for apprentices not to receive tax relief, was unfair.
Mayor of Clonmel Cllr. Pat English said that this move would only force more people to move away from Ireland.