Funding age inequality slammed by employers

Employers have criticised Learning and Skills Council (LSC) cuts in funding for older apprentices.

Rates paid for learners aged over 19 when they start their apprenticeships are to decrease by 6% – despite already being well below employment wage rates for the 16-18 cohort.

The announcement, made in the summer, will affect the 2005 to 2006 funding year, which starts this month. It was made despite government pledges of more subsidised adult training opportunities, and trials of apprenticeships for adults.

“We’re getting mixed messages, and we’ve told the LSC this is wrong,” said Mark Crocker, head of customer relations management at Lloyds TSB’s Asset Management Division, which has set up an apprenticeship scheme for contact centre staff.

The company was surprised at the number of graduates who wanted to enrol, and does not want to exclude them.

“How can we be ageist when the training need is the same and equality is key to everything else we do?” said Crocker. “We’re setting ourselves up to lobby. Unless you’ve got employers like us who are going to make a fuss, things won’t get better.”

In industries where training is particularly costly and lengthy, funding is crucial. Bryan Harrison, training manager at high precision engineering company Slack and Parr, said: “I get a lot of applications from people who are 24, 25, 26 [years old], but I can’t afford to train them. Even with an applicant who’s 19, I only get half the funding.”

He rejects the government’s view that it takes less time to train adults. “They can’t gain enough skill, knowledge and experience in a shorter period.”



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