New outdoor dining scheme a boost for sector recovery

Constituency Fianna Fáil Minister of State at the Department of Business, Deputy Robert Troy, has described launch of the Outdoor Dining Scheme as a great opportunity for the hospitality sector to increase capacity.

The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme comprises two parts and will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and local authorities across the country.

Part One of the Scheme will provide funding for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity. Funding allocated under Part Two will enable Local Authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres, similar to those that exist in various European cities.

“This Scheme has two main objectives - firstly, to enable individual tourism and hospitality businesses increase their dining and seating capacity in the short-term and secondly to enable a long-term strategy for local authorities to develop appropriate permanent weatherproofed outdoor dining infrastructure.

“The aim is to support jobs and businesses and to transform appropriate outdoor spaces within our cities and towns as welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery. The scheme has been welcomed by representatives of Fáilte Ireland and I look forward to working with many local businesses, and Local Authorities in driving it to the maximum potential,” Minister Troy stated.

The Outdoor Dining Scheme will be available for application from the April 12 and full details will be available on the Department of Tourism website.

Expansion of apprenticeship provision

Meanwhile, Deputy Troy, believes the investment of €20 million in capital funding to respond to the growing demand for apprenticeships is a hugely positive step which will provide real options for those considering their future careers.

The funding will allow for a significant expansion in electrical, plumbing and carpentry places, and additional COVID-19-related capacity in electrical, plumbing, hairdressing and pipefitting places.

“Last week’s investment of €20 million, to be provided via SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority (HEA ), will fund the delivery of almost 4,000 additional craft apprentice places annually across further and higher education - helping to catch up on the lost provision in 2020, and to support the target increase of 1,450 registrations across all apprenticeships in 2021.

“This investment reaffirms the Government’s strong commitment to enhancing and expanding the apprenticeship system. Access to cutting edge equipment is key to positioning apprenticeships as a valued and attractive path to sought-after qualifications. A strong pipeline of craft apprentices is also critical in sustaining the construction sector and delivering on our ambitious national infrastructure plans.

“The Government will shortly consider a new Action Plan for Apprenticeships. It will set out new ways of structuring, funding and promoting apprenticeships, with a target of 10,000 new apprenticeship registrations per year by 2025. This compares with a 2019 registration figure of 6,177.

“We have huge ambitions in this area. As with other parts of our education and training system, the apprenticeship system experienced significant disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By supporting additional apprenticeship places, the investment announced today will go some way towards mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, including requirements for smaller class sizes due to social distancing, and will also facilitate expansion for the longer term,” Deputy Troy stated.

The expansion of the national apprenticeship system has been a key Government priority since 2016.

Craft apprenticeship is currently being delivered using blended learning, due to the extended Level 5 restrictions; however, a phased return to onsite training has begun in recent weeks.

The €20m will be allocated by SOLAS and the HEA across Education and Training Boards (ETBs ), Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities.


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