Employers warned not to ‘piggy back’ off apprenticeships with poorer courses

Employers “piggy-backing” off the popularity of apprenticeships to promote and run their own poor quality courses could ruin the reputation of the training schemes, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, will today say: “The apprenticeship brand has become so strong and universally recognised that there is a danger that unscrupulous employers could piggy-back on the success of genuine schemes by providing half-baked, poorly-funded, second-rate apprenticeships of their own.

“Part of the task we face is to stop apprenticeships from becoming a victim of their own success. What we don’t need are schemes that generate kudos and positive PR for the employer but do little to meet the needs of apprentices themselves.”

Barber will insist the warning “is not union scaremongering” by saying: “We’ve heard reports of apprenticeships lasting less than three months and schemes that offer just one hour of off-the-job training a week.

“Unless we act to prevent these abuses, the risk is we undermine the progress we have made.”

About a quarter of a million apprenticeship places a year are now available and the TUC expects this to reach 400,000 by 2020.

Barber will welcome the cross-party support for apprenticeships, demonstrated in the election manifestos published this week but will call for “politicians to put there money where their mouths are” and make their pledges a reality if they get to power.

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