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More Effort Needed For Apprentice Training

August 18 2010 - The shortage of university places has led students to look for apprenticeships as an alternative but they are likely to be disappointed according to the TUC which says that employers are failing to provide enough places on schemes that provide on-the-job training.

BT is an exception. With 24,000 applications for 221 places, the telecommunications company decided to extend its apprenticeship scheme. Scarlet Harris, TUC apprenticeships policy & campaign officer, welcomed the news and expressed support for schemes such as BT's which have a solid qualifications framework and lead on to degree-level courses and good training in the workplace.

Scarlet Harris said

"More large employers should follow BT's example and consider expanding their apprenticeship schemes. Companies employing 500-plus employees provide 16 per cent of the total employment, yet offer only 5 per cent of apprenticeship places overall. Large employers are providing only three apprenticeship places for every 1,000 16 to 24-year- olds they employ. The Government has said that it is putting an extra £150 million into apprentices, but the apprenticeships system will only be a success if employers are willing to take them on."

"Apprenticeships are not a second-best route for those who have failed to achieve in the academic world - or have failed to get a university place. What we are pushing for - and I think the Government is as well - is that they are seen as a valued route in themselves."

The TUC advises students to apply for credible schemes that offer:

  • a fair wage
  • sufficient time for training, and
  • real opportunities for employment and career progression.

Scarlet Harris added:

"The drive to increase the quantity of apprenticeships on offer must not come at the expense of quality."

The TUC's own learning and skills organisation Unionlearn can provide advice in the workplace about apprenticeships. It also negotiates fair wages and conditions for apprentices. Union learning reps act as mentor for young people on apprenticeship programmes.

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