LETTER: Apprenticeships are not fit for purpose

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Today’s “apprenticeships” are not fit for purpose. So, pardon me for being a little sceptical when I read the article in the Express on February 10th.

Record number of young people started apprenticeship in 2010/11: 890 to be precise. I think it is pointless!

Today’s “apprenticeships” are as far removed from what we all believe are apprenticeships as to be unrecognisable. As far as “I served my time” — that phrase is gone.

All the Labour Government schemes for older employees are re-badged as apprenticeships, with short courses for over-25s, most already working for Asda, Morrison’s or McDonald’s. Worthwhile maybe, but hardly “apprenticeships”. This created a huge increase in apprenticeships. So many of these so-called apprenticeships are for 12-week courses from private training companies, paid for by the state but with no jobs at the end. These are state funds on company training. That revelation forced the Government to promise that all apprenticeships for 16-18 years old must last a year, but this is not the case for 19-24 year olds. 16-18 year olds were always promised training. Training becomes apprenticeships but not jobs.

Here is a statistics for you: In the last year apprenticeships for the over 60s rose by 878%. Some local statistics:- Burnley has a record high unemployment at December 2011 of 2676. That is an increase of 21.1 % in 12 months. These are people receiving Job Seekers Allowance, searching for full time work. This is higher than the peak during the financial crisis of 2009.

Young people (aged 19-24) claiming Job Seekers Allowance is 930.

We saw the damage done to a lost generation who never found work in the 80s, this will be dwarfed by what is happening now.

Here’s what the children’s charity Barnardo’s said about the loss of the education maintenance allowance: “It’s an absolute disgrace that some students are forced to skip meals in order to afford the bus to college. Our most vulnerable young people may lose the opportunity to improve their life chances”.

This is the reality of the current situation. How many young people does this apply to in Burnley?

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the 890 apprenticeships. How many were young people? What is the training being given? How many are employed?

The facts above speak for themselves. Record high unemployment. Record high numbers of young people on benefit.

Our young are being failed by these empty schemes.