179 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has satisfied himself that the number of apprentice places in third level colleges is adequate to meet demand; if he has further satisfied himself that the demand for apprentice places will be met over the next five years; his views on whether it is necessary to establish a taskforce to evaluate skills shortages for apprentices as was done for information technology skills shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10373/00]
Written Answers. - Institutes of Technology.
Apprentice numbers have expanded significantly in recent years with the result that the total number of apprentices registered is now over 21,000.
The need for additional capacity in institutes of technology to cater for these increases is being addressed in conjunction with the institutes. A major capital investment programme to provide additional capacity is in train and my Department has provided the Institutes with additional resources to enable them to expand existing programmes where possible. Extra staff have been sanctioned and additional funding is being provided to meet the cost of extra courses. In the two financial years 1998 and 1999 a total of £6 million of additional recurrent funding was provided to fund additional courses. A further £5 million is being provided this year.