Fears amid drop in apprenticeships
The number of new trade apprenticeships has nosedived 86% since the height of the construction boom.
Organisers of the National Skills Competition said there has never been such a dramatic drop in the traineeships in such a short length of time.
Donal Keys, of Dublin Institute of Technology's Department of Construction Skills, said it raised worries about the availability of skilled tradesmen for when the economy recovers.
"When the upturn comes will we have the people with the skills that are needed?" he said.
There were 8,779 new apprenticeship registrations to state training agency Fas between 2004 and 2005.
That figure has plummeted to 1,237 this year, it was revealed at the launch of the National Skills Competition.
"There's never been such a nosedive over such a short period of time," said Mr Keys.
Meanwhile, qualified apprentices are seeking work in Australia and Canada and getting picked up immediately because Irish tradesmen consistently rank among the world's best, he added.
Fas said apprenticeships are driven by demand from employers and the onus was on individuals themselves to secure a traineeship with an employer before they could be taken on any scheme.
The training agency said it was focusing on the 7,500 apprentices who have been made redundant during the downturn.