UCATT have welcomed the Government’s commitment to use the public sector to revitalise construction training.
In July UCATT launched a major report Apprenticeships a Firm Foundation, which warned that construction apprenticeships would collapse without Government intervention. The report recommended that all public sector contracts should contain quotas of apprenticeships.
The report was also highly critical of so called Programme Led Apprenticeships, where young people do not gain any workplace experience until they have spent two years in a classroom and can only achieve an NVQ Level 2. The report warned that PLA’s were an expensive and inferior alternative. The only effective solution was to force companies to take on craft apprentices.
In his speech to the TUC John Denham the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: “We will make sure that every year we use the power of Government contracts – the purchase of over £150 billion of products and services to insist that these opportunities are available to all.”
Mr Denham, also emphasised that the planned 42,000 apprenticeships by 2012: “will provide proper training, in real jobs so that we can build the sector’s future and that of its workforce.”
Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “We are very pleased that the Government have taken on board the findings of our report and are already implementing its recommendations.”
Prior to his speech on Tuesday (September 9) the TUC Congress unanimously passed a UCATT motion calling for strict quotas of apprentices on public sector contracts and also unreservedly condemning the attempt to replace traditional craft workplace based apprenticeships with the inferior Programme Led courses.
Wilf Flynn the UCATT Executive Council member for Northern Region who moved the motion, said: “You don’t train a tradesperson by sitting them in a classroom.”
Mr Flynn, also warned: “If we don’t get it right we won’t have apprentices today and certainly we won’t have them tomorrow.”
The union movement’s condemnation of PLA’s will come as a blow to many construction bosses, who have been promoting the scheme, as a cost saving measure.
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