The Government are currently expanding the number of apprenticeships on offer into a range of new sectors of the economy. Following two calls for apprenticeship proposals made by the Apprenticeship Council, there are new apprenticeships in development in occupations ranging from healthcare to hospitality to meet the skill needs of industry. To date nine new apprenticeships have commenced in areas such as insurance, accounting and financial services. An additional ten new programmes are scheduled to get underway later this year. All of these new apprenticeships are national programmes that can be delivered on a nationwide basis.
In addition, we have seen strong growth in registrations across the craft trades nationally during 2017 with 4,508 at year end, which represents a 20% increase on 2016.
The Government is also prioritising the expansion of traineeship offerings. At the end of 2017, an additional eight new traineeships had been developed in areas such as hospitality, engineering and animation. These new programmes will complement the existing programmes on offer. The programmes have been designed by ETBs working in collaboration with employers to meet identified skill needs. In addition, we have broadened the eligibility criteria on participation to include school leavers, older learners and people in employment.
Education and training providers are also engaging positively with the Regional Skills Fora in order to address skills deficits in their regions. This engagement informs the planning for education and training programmes, including apprenticeship and traineeship.
I am pleased to say that both IT Sligo and Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB have been very actively involved in this initiative. IT Sligo is the coordinating provider for the very first of the new breed of apprenticeships for insurance practitioner, while the ETB is the coordinating provider for a butcher and associate sales professional. They also have expanded their range of craft apprenticeships including electrical, electrical instrumentation, vehicle body repair, toolmaking, carpentry and joinery.