A Homeswest project in Glendalough is to be used as the vehicle for giving 70 people the chance to begin apprenticeships in the building and construction industry.
Housing Minister Jim McGinty said the construction of 20 residential units on the corner of Cayley and Leeder Streets would be used to provide on-the-job training for the apprentices.
"The first year apprenticeships will be offered to a mix of women, ex pre-apprentices and experienced labourers who are interested in becoming qualified in a trade," Mr McGinty said.
"A number of suspended apprentices will also be used at the site to allow them to work towards completing their trade training."
The Minister said the $1.4 million joint Homeswest/Building and Construction Industry Training Fund (BCITF) project would see the apprentices participate in the construction of five three-bedroom townhouses, eight one-bedroom townhouses, one unit for people with disabilities and six two-bedroom units.
He made the announcement at the site of the first `Live Work' project in Belmont - which has seen 10 homes constructed by 50 suspended apprentices and six previously unemployed tradespeople.
"It has demonstrated how training can be integrated into a housing development," Mr McGinty said.
"Projects such as these are essential if we are to ensure that the number of skilled tradespeople working in the building industry is sufficient to meet the inevitable demand that will occur as building activity increases.
"Unfortunately, the intake of apprentices in the industry has reduced significantly in recent years - from 729 new positions in 1988-89 to 305 in 1991-92.
"That represents a 58 per cent reduction in the number of new apprentices.
"Considering that there is a three to four years' lead-time in training apprentices we need to take urgent steps to increase the intake."
Mr McGinty said the Glendalough project would focus on first year apprentices, while the six previously unemployed tradespeople who acted as trainers on the Belmont site would also be retained.
"The apprentices will receive award wages, be indentured to group training schemes and placed within industry on completion of the project," he said.
"This is a commercial project - the only concession to the use of so many apprentices is that the completion time has been extended to 60 weeks, instead of the normal 40 weeks for a project of this size.
"Construction should commence this month."
Mr McGinty said the Glendalough project was another example of private industry, unions and the Lawrence Government working together for the public benefit.
"This innovative scheme will go a long way to addressing the apprenticeship commencement problems that currently plague the industry," he said.
"It also follows a decision by Homeswest to require companies with contracts for the construction of two or more units to have at least one apprentice on site throughout the project."