Apprenticeship scheme ‘failing to meet local needs’

Apprentices are increasingly finding themselves out of work owing to large outsourcing firms dominating the system, leading to a ‘dumbing down’ that is failing to meet local needs, a Yorkshire construction firm has said.

Building new homes Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Building new homes Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Hudson Contract boss, Ian Anfield, has said that young people are being let down by the national apprenticeship programme which he says has scrapped local training schemes in favour of a ‘one size fits all’ nationwide scheme which favours a London-based approach.

The boss of the Bridlington-based family firm said that big outsourcing groups often use apprenticeships to enhance their bids for publicly funded work and fulfil planning obligations, making them eligible for millions of pounds in grants from the industry training board. However, once contracts are completed and training grants claimed, apprentices frequently find themselves out of work and lacking in sufficient skills as tradespeople, said Mr Anfield.

Mr Anfield told The Yorkshire Post: “The whole thing is broken.

Sarah Jordan of VIPworldwide

“Local authorities always had the ability to manage their own supply chain. Things have been standardised and it just has not worked.”

He also claimed that the decline in training standards was a result of political lobbying.

He added that the growth of the outsourcing industry has reduced opportunities in many communities as once established local firms are shut out of routine local authority work.

These firms were the traditional providers of apprenticeships, helping young people to become plasterers, joiners, scaffolders or bricklayers.

Instead, young people must now travel to cities many miles away to sign up for short-term apprenticeships of questionable value, added Hudson.

One such person is Sarah Jordan, who was offered a placement 76 miles from her home in Hessle, East Yorkshire following the collapse of Government provider Aspire Achieve Advance (known as 3aaa), which closed in the autumn, leaving a number of apprentices without a training course.

Sarah’s boss Kirsty Beasley, the director of marketing at VIP Worldwide, said she had lost all the work related to her apprenticeship training and endured months of frustration.

She said: “Sarah started with us in July on a digital marketing apprenticeship.

“Sarah received a call from her tutor on October 12, 2018 to say the company had gone into receivership the day before.

“There was no information of whether she would have a pause in learning.”

In early March, Ms Jordan was initially told that an alternative apprenticeship placement had been found for her at Shipley College in West Yorkshire which is more than 76 miles from her home.

A Shipley College spokesman said that they had been approached by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and were asked to consider options to support a number of digital marketing apprentices who had been affected by the closure of 3aaa in Yorkshire.

The spokesman said: “Our aim was to explore running workshops within the apprentices’ local area.

“Unfortunately, when we explored the options, it became clear that we were not in a position to run this training in terms of logistics and funding.”

Mrs Beasley said: “The Government has just rushed to place the students with no regard to distance or if the provider can even take them.

“Sarah had done three months’ of hard work which included tests, projects and started her portfolio towards her apprenticeship and all this work is lost and cannot be accessed as 3aaa’s online platform is down.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Following the termination of 3aaa’s contracts with the department, we prioritised finding new training providers as quickly as possible for the affected learners.

“Working with a specialist team, the majority of apprentices have been allocated to new providers and have restarted their apprenticeships.

“We are in discussion with a small number of providers to finalise arrangements for the transfer of the remaining small amount of apprentices who still need to be transferred.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: “A formal criminal investigation has been launched into 3aaa.”