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Apprentices ‘not trained properly’
Construction union Ucatt accused the government on Tuesday of not doing enough to regulate apprenticeship programmes following new revelations of abuses in existing schemes.
Ucatt has previously warned that policies allowing the subcontracting of apprentice schemes would devalue training and lead to a reduction in skills.
A BBC Panorama investigation raised serious safety concerns on Monday, as private training providers were “signing off” apprentices who had not been assessed and had not completed the training.
Apprentices could then apply for permanent positions and the company employing them would believe that their skills and knowledge were far higher than was the case.
Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy, who started off as an apprentice in Yorkshire, said: “Private-sector providers will invariably cut corners to boost profits.
“This creates real safety concerns as companies then employ someone who they believe is properly skilled and understands construction dangers when that is clearly not the case.”
Mr Murphy also argued that only traditional craft-based schemes, where the apprentice is employed by a company and undertakes at-work training, supplemented by college education, should be counted as apprenticeships in government figures.
The number of construction apprentices has been declining for decades, according to the union, and continued to fall even when the industry was booming.
Companies which failed to train apprentices would not be eligible for such work, it said.
“Apprentice training is the lifeblood of the construction industry,” Mr Murphy said.
“Apprentices are the workers of the future. If their training continues to be devalued then ultimately the industry will suffer.
“The laissez faire approach to apprenticeship training has failed and the government must force construction companies to recruit apprentices on proper courses.”
A Department of Business Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said: “We take any allegations of sub-standard apprenticeships provision very seriously.
“Action is already in hand to review isolated cases where there is know to be a cause for concern.”
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