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I had a reply from the government!

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by classixuk, Jun 7, 2010.


  1. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    Hey guys,

    Guess what? Some of you might remember that a couple of weeks ago we were talking about benefits, reforms, apprenticeships etc. and that I made a reply about why apprenticeships don't seem to work nowadays. I then made a further reply to say that I had fired off my response to a few local MPs as well as the Department for Education. We wondered if I'd get a response?

    Well...I did. From the government! :eek:

    Here it is:

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you for your e-mail of 28 May addressed to the PCU Correspondence mailbox, about apprenticeships. On this occasion I have been asked to reply.

    I should explain that it is in recognition of the fact that 16-18 year olds may not immediately be fully productive that apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged 19 and over in their first year of their apprenticeship are currently exempt from the National Minimum Wage. This is a very considerable concession. We recognise that employers may be put off recruiting 16-18 year olds due to their lack of experience in the workplace and the additional costs involved in training them. The cost of training 16-18 year olds is also fully funded. It would be expected that after two years in the job, that an employee (be they an Apprentice or not) would be more productive than when they first started out in the world of work and that the employer would be seeing some benefit.

    Recent research shows that employers receive a positive net return on their investment in an apprentice in less than 3 years. Apprenticeships also lead to greater employee motivation and job satisfaction. Apprenticeships are designed by employers for employers and are therefore tailored to the needs of the workforce. They are a cost effective way of harnessing fresh talent in order to tackle skills shortages. Good employers know they must continue to invest in developing the skills of their workforce in order to be successful.

    £95 per week is currently the minimum wage for Apprentices aged 16 to 18 and apprentices aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship in England, not a set amount that an Apprentice receives. Employers are free to pay more than the minimum and frequently do so; in fact the average take-home weekly wage for Apprentices is £170. All others must be paid at least the NMW appropriate to their age.
    The new Government is committed to the development of high-quality employer owned Apprenticeships and we intend to boost the supply of apprenticeship places for people of all ages over the next year. We recently announced that we would be recycling £150m to fund 50,000 new Apprenticeship places.

    I hope this reply is helpful.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Pettit
    Public Communications Unit
     
  2. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    And here's my rather lengthy reply, if you can be bothered to read it. LOL

    Hi David,
    Many thanks for your reply.

    Unfortunately, I don't feel that my points have been addressed, and would appreciate if you could investigate my queries further. I do accept that my original email may not have been clear, as it was copied and pasted from an internet forum post, so I shall endeavour to clarify my questions in this response. I do hope, most respectfully, that this will assist you in being able to furnish me with the appropriate responses. I apologise for any prior misunderstanding.

    My specific query is to why the current national apprenticeship scheme is so biased towards young people of 16-19. I speak as somebody who has been through the modern apprenticeship scheme myself (albeit some years ago), I am currently a recognised NVQ assessor for City and Guilds of London, and I also run a small business (2 locations 10+ staff) and actively employ apprentices myself.

    Whilst I appreciate that you can give me the results of national studies or recent research etc., I do believe that as someone who is actually "here on the frontline" in all areas of apprenticeships (student, trainer and employer) for over 17 years in the Northern working cities, that my anecdotal evidence of the day to day realities should carry some weight.

    I will also mention, before I move on, that I never wrote to any government department during the previous few parliamentary terms about this problem, as I felt I would be replied to with figures and spin. Hopefully, that sort of approach is now on it's way out.

    The problem with apprenticeships as they currently operate, effects both business owners like myself and the apprentices themselves. Government money is being thrown at getting people "qualified" via pieces of paper and false hopes, at the expense of real skills and career opportunities.

    I run a very popular on-line resource for hairdressers to chat and get advice from one another, and the most common question from people who are about to finish, or have recently finished an apprenticeship is, "Why can't I get a job?". We see this question being asked almost every summer when the college year ends.

    After 17 years on both sides of the apprenticeship scheme (student and trainer) as well as 10 years as an employer, I know all too well why this happens, and I am hoping that the reasons will be considered seriously and at the very least investigated during this parliamentary term as the problem is a national one.

    It might help if I describe for you in a nutshell how a current apprentice path works for a 16 year old "down here on the ground":
    They enrol at a technical college to study for an NVQ level 2; they achieve this and then continue to study for an NVQ level 3 which they also achieve. This process takes 2 years. They now leave college aged 18 with a piece of paper and high ambition. They begin to apply for jobs as hairstylists but they are turned down by 100% of potential employers (that figure is based on the 2,600 members responses who use my internet resource). The reason they are always given is that their skills are just not comparable to a person with real industry skills and experience.

    You might justifiably ask why these business owners do not take on the college leaver and perhaps invest 6 months training to "polish them up" - after all, it would be good for their business. But herein lies the problem.

    Vocational trades such as hairdressing, floristry, mechanics, as well as many retail sector jobs such as sales etc. tend to be paid a low basic wage (meets national minimum wage) with some type of commission or other performance related pay structure to reward those who do well.

    When an apprentice who is recently qualified begins applying for jobs, the law says that he/she must be paid the national minimum wage. Unfortunately, in sectors such as those described above, the base wage for experienced and skilled people is not usually much above national minimum wage to begin with, so the apprentice finds themselves competing against others (often with 5+ years experience) who can begin being productive for the employer from day one of their employment.

    The only winners in the current system are the technical colleges, who receive the full government funding for each and every apprentice they "sign off" as "qualified". I actually know of hair salon owners who have closed their salons and re-opened as "training schools" as the government contracts are so much more lucrative than their business ever was.

    Do we really need to recycle £150m into such a corrupt system?

    If you think that the above sounds gloomy, I would ask you to also consider the plight of those aged 19 or over. They tend to have it worse.

    Currently, as the law stands, if a 19 year old with no prior experience approaches us or any of our peers for a work placement (college one day per week and in our employment 4 days per week), she/he really stands very little chance of being offered an apprenticeship. The reason for this is purely down to the way the law works for National Minimum Wage. The NVQ course takes 2 years. The student however must be paid the full adult minimum wage rate after 1 year. Our hands, as employers, are tied. It makes financial sense to seek out only apprentices aged 16-17 who can currently study for the full 2 years it takes to become qualified without the burden of legal obligation more than doubling the apprentice payroll half way through.

    The only option commonly left (and therefore taken) for those unqualified and aged over 19 in this country is to attend a college full-time in order to achieve an NVQ qualification; of which, the pitfalls after "qualifying" and the non-existent opportunities for employment have already been highlighted.

    Once again though, in the above scenario, the technical colleges and training centers still receive the funding for the entire duration, whilst the employers and apprentices lose out afterwards.

    To wrap up; as an employer myself, I don't need £150m recycling to fund 50,000 new apprentice places. The government could keep every penny and use it towards reducing our deficit (which in my opinion will help young people's futures in a much more viable way). All I need is for the red-tape created by the last government to be undone from my wrists ever so slightly.

    The colleges and training providers have had their money. They have (and continue to) annually churned out tens of thousands of "newly qualified" people whom I and other businesses could actively employ (and who are actively looking for work) if only the legislation would allow me to do that, and allow the person seeking employment to do the same.

    No matter a person's age, I strongly believe that the law could be simplified and changed to reflect the following the things:

    a) When a person signs up for an NVQ based apprenticeship (upto level 3), the national minimum wage for apprentices should be applicable until the date they achieve their NVQ level 3. This would allow people of all ages and backgrounds to get back into training, out of the dole queue, and would cover them for their entire duration of learning.
    b) Where a person already has achieved an NVQ level 3, but has little to no relevant industry experience to enforce it (i.e. they are an otherwise suitable candidate for employment, however the lack of real industry experience makes them unsuitable for the position they are meant to be "qualified" for) they, and their prospective employer, should be free to enter into a simple written agreement (say upto 12 months maximum) whereby the employer agrees to carry out the further training required to "polish their skills" up to industry standard, and where that person agrees to the opportunity in order to give them a door of opportunity into the vocation they trained for, as well as secure full employment, I believe that throughout the duration of this agreed training period, the national minimum wage for apprentices should be applicable rather than the full adult rate as it currently stands. Applicants ask me if they can do this all of the time. They say to me, "How am I meant to get salon experience when no-body will take me on and give me a chance to get that experience? I will even work for free if you can just give me a chance". These people are eager, but the national minimum wage law as it currently stands, prevents them from working in the vocation they have trained for and leaves them either on the dole or stacking shelves.

    I believe that the 2 suggestions above would not cost £150m to implement, the words could simply be spoken for free in the Budget speech. I believe that the suggestions would free up employers and apprentices to work together, and I also believe that the system would be much fairer to apprentices of ALL ages in the UK.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Yours Truly,
    Chris


    The question now is...do you think I'll get another response, or are they more likely to think, "Who is this madman?" LOL

    To be honest though, I thought it a rather good sign that they replied at all. My Labour MP hasn't! :(
     
  3. JANICE199

    JANICE199 PetForums VIP

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    Firstly can i say, Well done you for taking the time to write to your MP and getting a response.I wont pretend to understand all that was written even though i have read both the response and your new letter.I'll keep my fingers crossed that you will get another reply,and hope that they will take on board the points you have raised.:D
     
  4. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    I hope you get a reply, it was a very coherant and eloquent correspondance!
     
  5. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

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    It just makes me :( that these apprenticeships will be fully funded yet I will have to pay at least £30,000 to get my degree :crying:

    I also don't really *get* why its just the younger ones as I know a lot of people in their 20'a around here on JSA who can't be bothered to get off their bums too...

    Just seems like such a lot of money to pump into apprenticeships and it really does piss me off the way I've always been encouraged to better myself, so I am going to do my best but resent the cost of £30,000 for doing do.

    I sure as heck hope they get rid of EMA seeing as they are offering up these apprenticeships. Just not happy about all the money completely fully funding them. Partially sure, but fully, I mean really?
     
  6. suzy93074

    suzy93074 PetForums VIP

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    Well done for writing back to them your letter was very eloqent and you put your points across very well - lets hope they reply - im surprised they did in fact reply the first time so good for u!:thumbup:
     
  7. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    Apprenticeships are 16-18, so are paid for as your a-levels were paid for. You pay for post 18 education (uni) in the same way over 18s arent funded for apprenticeships...I dont really see the difference between free 16-18 education for alevels or for vocational? Or am i missing something?
     
  8. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

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    A Levels are now compulsory though for 16-18 year olds, I believe its in 2013 where you cannot leave school aged 16 anymore, you will be 18 but I can't see them making people pay for apprenticeships then when they will too be further education like university. Plus I don't get paid for my A Levels but they can get £95 a week for an apprenticeship. They get paid to learn which to be honest does appeal more to me but because of where I am in terms of having already done A Levels I don't think it would be the best route for me on this timescale. The biggie on this for me is they get paid to do an apprenticeship as well as getting it for free, I get my A Levels for free but I don't get paid for them nor do I have a job at the end. Plus when we think about it, if the apprenticeships are only even in place until 2013 when people have to be in school til they are 18, seems pretty unfair just to benefit the 16-18's for three years and if you aren't the right age you miss out...

    I just think the whole way they give money out in regard to education doesn't make much sense. They don't even check parent's true earnings against the kids who apply for EMA and I know most lie to get it. They'd save millions if they either got rid or just double checked even on the few who apply to uni later on and make them repay it if they had lied.
     
    #8 GoldenShadow, Jun 7, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2010
  9. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    They get paid cos they work, providing a company is sponsering them? I worked full time (well, day relase so 4 days @ work, one at college) whilst doing my apprenticeship so why shouldnt i have gotten paid. I dont know how it works now, if they are not company sponsered are they still paid via an EMA type scheme? Also, they are not guarenteed a job after. If an apprentice doesnt fulfill their contract they can be cut loose at the end - you are kept on once you have proved yourself!

    I have done all routes really, I done my a-levels, i completed an apprenticeship and Im soon to graduate Uni, and i can assure you the apprenticeship was not an easy feat, although it may vary between inducstries I had to work my butt off, as well as study (I still do cos of uni around FT work)

    Cant comment on the EMA, wasnt in place when i was at school... I had to work to earn my money during my alevels heh.. I can kind of understand it being a way to allow kids to continue study when normally theyd be sent to work to help pay for the household, but i agree it should be closely monitored so its not abused. I worked all weekend, a 2 evenings when I was doin my a-levels and i think it helped my work ethic. So I can see it being abused just so ppl can be lazy and not have to get a part time job!
     
    #9 Savahl, Jun 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2010
  10. JANICE199

    JANICE199 PetForums VIP

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    OMG is this right? How can they say your an adult at 18 and yet want people to stay at school?:confused::rolleyes:
     
  11. tafwoc

    tafwoc PetForums VIP

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    I know! I feel sorry for people who will have to stay in education till they are 18. I couldn't wait to leave school.
     
  12. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

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    I'm not saying you shouldn't get paid nor am I saying an apprenticeship is easy, I've not mentioned that anywhere.

    Its a matter of apprenticeships will surely be for the over 18's after 2013 if they stay in place which brings the why pay so much for uni argument back in, and if they abolish them then its not as fair to have only benefited those who were 16-18 in the build up to 2013.

    I don't think uni should be free at all, I think its good we should pay but its a bit of a kick when I look back and see I've basically missed out on the apprenticeship thing and yet uni fees are predicted to go up and up and up. I think all kinds of education and learning should have something there to stop it becoming completely unaffordable but for folk like me in the middle of finishing A Levels and starting uni its quite a scarey time to be honest.

    People are constantly encouraged to better themselves and I was always brought up that A Levels and university were the way to go to stand the best chance of being able to afford your life and have a family. But to look at it now it doesn't seem the best route at all and appears that its being made more difficult in terms of affording that route. I know they want less students at uni, but I would have thought they should do that on the basis of only letting in higher callibre people and not those who could afford it, but I really do think those who struggle a bit money wise may just drop the whole uni idea altogether no matter if they have the capabilities to do better if they did go to uni.

    In all honesty it looks as though uni is being targeted for those who can afford it in a weird kid of way, which happens to fit with what many think of the tory government :confused1:

    The last above para I may well have a different take on later, its just popped into my head that it clicks slightly but I'm waiting on the phone to ring and amidst revision notes so sorry if this isn't very coherent! Will be easier to understand when the apprenticeships come into place and there is more about them around too.
     
  13. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

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    Its weird but I was so thankful I missed out on being in the age groups affected by this. Even though I wanted to do A Levels its a bit different wanting to do them and then ending up having no choice in the matter :( Not even sure how they will do it as a lot of schools only cater for 11-16 year olds maybe they will expand colleges or just the schools and make it compulsory that they find places for their 16 year old leavers?
     
  14. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    Thanks Janice!

    The problem (in ordinary English) is this...

    Say your son with the good singing voice suddenly became unemployed for reasons beyond his control.

    He decides that because he loves music, he wants to start a new career as a studio sound engineer. He looks into it, and he discovers that it takes 2 years to train for it. He's prepared to do that.

    He looks into the routes for training, and he can either go full time to college for 2 years, or he can go to college one day each week and attend in a real working music studio for 4 days a week learning on the job.

    He goes on a few music forums and discovers that nearly all of the people who did the course last year by going to a college full time were still looking for jobs. They are all posting that music studios won't take them on as they don't have any real studio experience.

    He then discovers that the ones who learned in studios but only went to college one day per week have all either stayed on in jobs with the studios they learned from, or were snapped up by rival studios.

    So he goes for an interview at a studio.

    But they tell him, "Sorry mate. You seem really eager and really up for it. I would LOVE to take you on and train you, but the course takes 2 years. The government says that after 1 year here I would need to start paying you £250 a week - full adult rate minimum wage. If I take on a younger person, we get the full 2 years to train them on the apprentice rate - and it does take 2 years. We couldn't afford to keep you on after the first 12 months."

    He'd hear this EVERYWHERE he goes.

    Yet his only legal alternative is to attend full time at college (which doesn't result in a job) getting paid absolutely "zilch" - in fact, he'd be paying the college!

    So you can see here how he'd be stuck?

    Let's say your son is an enterprising fella and suggests to the studio boss, "Listen, I don't want to go to college. I am serious about becoming a sound engineer. I will work and study here on the apprentice minimum wage for the full 2 years it takes to do the course, just like the younger ones...I don't care about the wage, I just want to become a qualified sound engineer and get into a job I think I'd love."

    There's the problem right there Janice. Your son, and the studio boss, cannot do that (even though they both happily would do). It is against the law for some weird reason, and in my view, this law is stopping people over the age of 19 from changing vocational careers. The only option open to them is going to a technical college which unfortunately doesn't usually = a job at the end of it.

    I believe the law should be changed.

    I want it so that anyone of any age (like your son perhaps) who wants to do an NVQ, and would prefer to do it via day release (i.e. train in a real studio 4 days a week, and attend college for one day) is free to do so however they choose. The way to do this is to simplify the law on apprentice minimum wage so that it is applicable to ALL apprentices of ANY age up to the date they qualify. This evens the playing field a bit and opens up training for everyone, not just young people.

    I'm also suggesting that we don't forget about the poor fools who mistakenly attended college full time, got a piece of paper but then couldn't get a job due to lack of "studio experience". Currently, these people are left on the scrapheap.
    I believe that they should be free to approach a music studio who would have taken them on if they had more experience, and enter into an agreement of say up to 12 months, where they are entitled to an apprentice rate of pay while they build on their experience and "polish up" their skills. Kind of like a "post graduate" scheme for people leaving college with an NVQ.

    :)
     
  15. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    I agree Tinsley. This funding by the way, goes directly to the colleges and training centers.

    I know "hairdressing training centers" who get this funding yet don't even build a "practising hair salon" to train the students in! They just visit the "students" in their workplaces and use the salon they already work in. This causes great disruption to the employer who might actually need that chair for a real client, and half the time, the student is "getting training" that completely fell out of fashion in the real industry with the ark!

    Once the trainer has gone, the employer and student have to "undo" the learning and start again from scratch.

    All the while, the employer is paying out of their own pocket and the "training college" is pocketing a fortune. It's like a game of tennis where the apprentice is the ball.
     
  16. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    Savahl,

    Apprenticeships are fully funded (i.e. the college gets funding) up until the age of 25.

    The employer however, is only given the benefit of apprentice rates for 12 months once the student is aged 19 or over.

    So, the college gets funded for 2 years (sometimes 3), but the employer loses their incentives after 12 months.

    That's why most apprentices are aged 16-17 when they begin. It's the only time that the playing field is levelled.

    :(
     
  17. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    Tinsley, I believe that the program means all people must be educated to A-Level standard OR equivalent.

    An equivalent would be NVQ level 2.

    For this reason, what they are doing is building into new comprehensive schools, things like hairdressing salons. Pupils can choose in their options to do an NVQ level 1 in hairdressing at the age of 14 (equivalent to a GCSE). They can then go on to get an NVQ level 2 from the age of 16-18.

    The schools will be paid a pupil premium (currently £50 per pupil per day) and will then be free to spend this how they like. We've already been approached by a local college to see if we fancy teaching NVQ level 1 to 14-16 year olds, 2 days per week. We've been promised £35 per pupil per day. (Not bad for the school who pocket £15 and don't have to supply a teacher LOL).

    We're not going to do it though - I would imagine that most of the 14 year olds we would be given would be the kids that the other teachers didn't want disrupting their normal classes!
     
  18. poohdog

    poohdog PetForums VIP

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    Tell 'em you've got a copy of that video of Mandleson and Cameron with a banana...
    Betcha get a response....:001_cool:
     
  19. classixuk

    classixuk PetForums VIP

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    LOL! That paints a pretty picture!
     
  20. bird

    bird PetForums VIP

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    Well done for not just taking their first answer lying down. :thumbup: I really hope that they will listen to "someone from where it counts" but I wont hold my breathe. I look forward to their answer though. :rolleyes: :D
     
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