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CCATF urge Secretary of State to take action to support displaced apprentices

CCATF urge Secretary of State to take action to support displaced apprentices

The Right Honourable Gavin Williamson MP
Secretary of State for the Department for Education

Tuesday 28th April 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

RE: Exceptional (construction) apprenticeship support measures 

Further to our initial letter, dated 19th March 2020, regarding the consideration of exceptional (construction) apprenticeship support measures to reflect the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic I write, once again, in my capacities as an employer, a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and as Chairman of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) – representing approximately 15,000 current employed, supported or managed construction apprentices. 

In my earlier letter I highlighted the financial crisis of 2007-08 citing that apprenticeship numbers and apprentices where then, as now, very quickly and massively affected as a result of sudden change and by uncertainties faced by businesses, large and small.

The extra-ordinary and exceptional support measures that you and the UK Government have introduced are highly commendable and one would hope, been sufficient to safeguard any at risk construction apprenticeship placements.

The prompt announcement of the Job Retention Scheme and the ability to furlough staff and apprentices in particular whilst maintaining off the job training seemed wholly appropriate to protect jobs and enable necessary skills to be maintained in order to support a future economic recovery.

However, initial engagement with CCATF members and industry bodies reveals that some construction apprentices have already been displaced. In my earlier letter I raised the issue of managing displacement and risk of redundancy as I believe this is, and still should be, something which needs to be addressed.

There has been a huge amount of publicity and media coverage regarding the Job Retention Scheme, however it is unclear if, as yet, the business community realises, if in haste they have terminated an apprenticeship placement that re-employment through this scheme in order to furlough is a viable option.

In an attempt to amplify this aspect, we at the CCATF are working with a number of industry bodies, including the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) to encourage employers to consider these such options.

Irrespective of what other flexibilities in the redistribution of any unspent current Apprenticeship Levy and/or the suspension of the expiry of any unspent Levy funds, you may deem appropriate. We should, in the first instance, consider utilising our apprenticeship networks, awarding bodies and our provider base coupled with a government ‘call to action’ to positively champion, encourage, and even stimulate re-employment of displaced staff and specifically apprentices to enable the necessary skills to be maintained within (construction) businesses to support a future economic recovery and for the greater good of UK PLC.

Yours sincerely,

Martyn W Price MBE

Chairman Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force
Apprenticeship Ambassador
Workforce Development Director O’Halloran & O’Brien Ltd


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