The information sought by the Deputy is an operational matter for the individual State companies in the first instance. The Government is fully committed to renewing and significantly expanding the apprenticeship system in Ireland. The recent announcement by the ESB Networks training centre of excellence in Portlaoise of plans to recruit 300 new apprentices in the coming years is a significant development in this regard.
There are several other State bodies under the aegis of the Department actively participating in apprenticeship and graduate schemes. Bord na Móna, for instance, recruits apprentices on an annual basis. I understand it currently has 28 apprentices ranging from first to fourth year serving their apprenticeship in the trade of construction plant fitting, mechanical automation, maintenance fitting and electrical. The company reviews the apprenticeship programme on an ongoing basis and plans to recruit apprentices each year based on the business requirements.
In addition, Gas Networks Ireland is committed to providing opportunities for young adults through apprenticeship and graduate programmes. These personnel will be provided with specific training which will ensure Gas Networks Ireland continues to have the appropriate core technical competencies within its business to deliver its work programmes and ensure the ongoing success of the business.
The Engineers Ireland graduate placement training programme allows young engineers to gain experience in an engineering environment and the host organisation to benefit from their skills and enthusiasm. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland currently has three graduate energy engineers on this 23-month graduate programme. To date, SEAI has enabled 32 interns to participate across 15 local authorities under the SEAI-led energy intern programme which commenced in 2010. Under this programme, support has been provided to 70 SMEs in identifying energy savings of €1.75 million for their businesses. Electric Ireland has taken this programme and developed it into the Energy FIT programme which was recently launched in GAA clubs countrywide.