Advertisement
Employment

Apprentices ‘left in limbo’ by new measures as unemployment crisis mounts

Many young people made redundant during the pandemic have been left without support or new opportunities for training, according to experts

New government measures to support out of work apprentices don’t go far enough to help young people who have already lost their jobs, experts have warned, at a time when many apprentices have found themselves on the furlough scheme or facing redundancy due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gillian Keegan, the minister for apprenticeships and skills, signed new regulations this week to allow more out of work apprentices to complete their courses. But providers have told the Big Issue the new legislation won’t apply retrospectively, meaning anybody who is already out of work won’t benefit. 

The Department for Education insisted the new legislation is in addition to current support measures.

Simon Ashworth, chief policy officer for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said the organisation had been lobbying ministers for the change, but it was disappointing it won’t be applied retrospectively. 

“We were concerned that the current support for apprentices that get made redundant doesn’t adequately cover learners on longer programmes,” he told The Big Issue. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

“I saw an electrical engineering apprentice a couple of months back who was three years into a four-year programme. 

“He was devastated that the only support he could get was for 12 weeks, and the likelihood of him getting another job when he wasn’t qualified was fairly negligible.”

Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription

UK unemployment hit its highest in three years in the three months to August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), at 4.5 per cent,

The ONS also estimates the number of those in work between 16 to 24 has decreased by 220,000, plummeting to a record low of 3.54 million. 

Meanwhile, figures from the Welsh Government revealed that nearly 3,000 apprentices are still on the furloughn scheme in Wales alone, with hundreds already being made redundant.

Ashworth said while the new legislation was a “positive move”, ministers should provide additional support now the furlough scheme was being wound down. 

He added: “It’s good that the new legislation has come in, but unfortunately it won’t provide that level of support for apprentices who are on longer programmes who have been made redundant before this.

“One thing the government could do is look at a targeted wage subsidy or an extension to the furlough scheme for young apprentices who are at risk of redundancy to stop them becoming displaced in the first place.” 

Jill Whittaker, the managing director of HIT Training, another apprenticeship provider specialising in hospitality, told The Big issue the new legislation was “welcome” but the definition of “redundancy” needed to be extended. 

Whittaker said: “The current definition of redundancy needs to be extended to include those ‘laid off’, ‘let go’, or who have otherwise lost their job through no fault of their own. 

“At the moment, without a formal redundancy notice, we cannot continue to work with the apprentice.”

Toby Perkins, the shadow minister for apprenticeships, told The Big Issue he was “extremely disappointed” ministers had not made the new regulation retrospective. 

He said: “I have been in communication with several apprentices who have been made redundant in recent months and I have been pressing the government to act urgently. 

“While I welcome the new support measures, they have sadly come too late for many redundant apprentices who have been left in limbo, without a job or training opportunity.”

Gillian Keegan, apprenticeships and skills minister said in a statement: “This has been a challenging time for the entire country. We know that some apprentices have lost their jobs or are facing redundancy due to Covid-19.

“That’s why we have changed the law to allow more apprentices who have been made redundant to complete their programmes and get the skills and experience they need to get ahead.

“Alongside this, our redundancy support service for apprentices continues to provide free advice and guidance to apprentices affected by redundancy, as well as helping them to identify new apprenticeship opportunities available across the country.”

Have you been affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic? The Big Issue is committed to supporting its readers and find ways to help people stay in their jobs and in their homes through our Ride Out Recession Alliance. Send your stories and ideas to rora@bigissue.com to help us support those who need it most.

Image credit: IFA Teched/Flickr

Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
How to join a union
Trade unions

How to join a union

All the major strike action that could take place this summer - and why
Strike action

All the major strike action that could take place this summer - and why

Tory MPs have been saying railway workers earn more than they actually do
Employment

Tory MPs have been saying railway workers earn more than they actually do

Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff
Low pay

Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff

Most Popular

Read All
Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living
1.

Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'
3.

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue
4.

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.