A review, carried out for the Department of Education on apprenticeships, has recommended expanding the system to new business and industrial sectors.

It also says employers should play a bigger role in identifying the sectors suitable, and that apprentices should be paid while they are training. The report also recommends a reform of education and training, and aligning education more with the demands of the labour market. The Minister for Education said that since the current system was brought in in the 1990s there have been major changes to the economy and employment - that many of the apprenticeships were in construction, and that sector has been wiped out. In Ireland 25 professions are open to apprentices, the figure for Germany is 350. There are 1,500 new apprentice registrations a year in Ireland, 500,000 in Germany. 

IBEC's head of education policy Tony Donohoe was part of the review group. He says that apprenticeships and other work-based training have a major role to play in helping people secure quality, sustainable jobs. To succeed, however, businesses must be closely involved in the design and delivery of programmes. Mr Donohoe says the new recommendations would see a radical departure from the current system, adding that the level of courses must be matched to meet demand. He says that there are 350 apprentice schemes in Germany, compared to about 25 here in Ireland, which are mostly focused on the construction industry. He says he wants to see a situation where the levels grow to meet the German levels, while they will also be expanded into different sectors of industry. Mr Donohoe also says that the new schemes will be an attractive alternative for some to the CAO education system.

The German Irish Chamber of Commerce has advised the Government in this area. Holger Erdmann from the association says that while Germany was only too happy to contribute to the review, it is important that Ireland goes down its own road on apprenticeship schemes as the Irish framework is very different to the German one. He explains that every Germany company has to a member of a regional chamber of commerce and it is through these that apprenticeship schemes operate. 

MORNING BRIEFS - Twice as many chief executives around the world believe the global economy will improve in the next 12 months, and 39% say they are "very confident" their company's revenues will grow in 2014. That is according to to PwC's 17th Annual Global CEO Survey, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos last night.  The number of CEOs who see an improvement in the global economy over the next 12 months grew to 44%, up from only 18% last year. And just 7% predict the global economy will decline, sharply down from 28% in 2013. Broken down by region, chief executives in Western Europe are the most confident about short-term global economic prospects at 50%, in line with signs of improving conditions. 

*** Dublin was the only county in the country to record an increase in new buildings last year, according to a survey compiled by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland.  The survey shows that just under 8,000 new buildings were recorded last year, a drop of 36% on the 12,541 noted in 2012.  It also shows that 13% of new residential and commercial properties are classified as vacant.