Apprenticeships key to unlocking housing crisis solutions

Senator Mark Wall
05 February 2023

Labour Senator Mark Wall has called for the end to the exclusion of apprentices from minimum wage legislation to encourage more workers into crafts.

In advance of a Labour Party motion on Thursday (February 7th) demanding emergency housing measures, Senator Wall said too many vacant and derelict homes remain unused and must be brought back into life.

Senator Wall said:

“Right now we have a generation of young people who feel totally locked out of home ownership or secure and affordable rental options. 92% of 18 to 24 year olds are concerned that they’ll never own their own home, yet we know from preliminary Census data that over 166,000 properties lie vacant or derelict across the country. It’s outrageous.

“The Vacant Homes Action Plan 2023 – 2026 published last week includes no national targets for the number of empty and derelict homes to be brought back into use in 2023, nor does it contain CPO targets for vacant and derelict homes for each local authority. It’s simply not on.

“Emergency times demand emergency measures. This week the Labour Party will fight for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to increase national housing targets to a minimum of 50,000 per year and double the delivery of social and affordable housing.

“From talking to contractors, they are finding it really difficult to retain apprentices and this is confirmed by Connect Trade Union who have said that excluding apprentices from being paid the minimum wage is forcing young workers out of the crafts. Labour will call on government to drop the exemption from paying apprentices the minimum wage. Paying anyone below the minimum wage for a day’s work in this country is simply unacceptable.

“We need to encourage young people into apprenticeships like building to address the labour shortages that are holding back the building of homes.

“We have record levels of homelessness, families stretched beyond their means just to keep a roof over their head, young people leaving our shores once again. Investing in our apprentices could unlock a long-term solution to the labour shortages that are causing delays in delivering homes.”

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