I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 168 together.
The sharp decline in apprentice recruitment and significant levels of redundancies in many apprenticeship trades over the past three years has resulted in a dramatic fall off in the number of apprentices requiring education and training in the institutes of technology and colleges of further education. The requirement for Carpentry and Joinery provision has been particularly affected, having fallen from a high of 168 blocks nationally in 2008 to an expected national requirement for 15 blocks in 2012.
In light of the collapse in demand for this trade and following close consultations with the education providers and FÁS, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has allocated Carpentry and Joinery provision to a reduced number of colleges on a regional cluster basis for the 2012/13 academic year. All institutes involved in the training of apprentices have access to the equipment needed to support high quality training and the decision to allocate provision on a regional basis was taken in order to ensure that Carpentry and Joinery provision remained available to apprentices in regions across the country. In line with the commitment in the Government's Action Plan for Jobs, a review of the apprenticeship training model is being undertaken during 2012.