Is this apprenticeship pledge for real?
The Facebook post from SNP councillors including finance convener, Cllr Iain Dickson.
By Bill Heaney
When is an apprenticeship not a real apprenticeship? That’s the question trade unions in West Dunbartonshire are asking after the local council administration announced in this year’s budget that they are to invest £1 million on them.
This follows a claim by Reform, a respected think tank, that nearly 40 per cent of the money raised by the apprenticeship levy down South is being spent on MBA-style executive programmes or low-skills training that fails to meet the standard of teaching young people a trade.
“The government urgently needs to get rid of these poor-quality apprenticeships in order to provide more opportunities for young people to train as genuine apprentices,” a Reform spokesperson said.
Trade unionist Margaret Wood has claimed on social media that the SNP administration in West Dunbartonshire recently posted pictures in an attempt to show there was no change to grass cutting in our local parks and it was ‘business as usual’.
However, she revealed the work was being done by “apprentices” and that the publication of the pictures was “a pathetic attempt at propaganda (which) has only served to highlight the human element of the recent budget cuts which will lead to job losses.
She added: “The three operatives, who were unaware their picture was being taken, are apprentices within green space.
“The first picture shows 2 level 2 apprentices who are on a fixed one year contract earning £3.75 per hour.
“The other shows a level 3 apprentice who is on a three-year fixed term contract earning £7.75 per hour.
“These three apprentices’ contracts are up in July this year with no prospect of gaining full time employment
“There are another six level 2 apprentices and two level 3 apprentices finishing at the same time.
“Whilst the administration gloated over these images and quickly published them to discredit the local campaign against the cuts, these young men are left felling in their own words patronised, degraded, disrespected and humiliated being used as a pawn in the political game.
“Perversely, on the same post, Councillor (Iain) Dickson crowed about the SNP administration £1m of investment in apprentices, revealing a callous disregard towards the young workers employed currently by WDC.
“These apprentices are being exploited simply to fill vacant posts on the cheap.
“They deserve so much more than thi hypocritical and disgraceful act by WDC’s administration. Shame on them.”
Community Party campaigner Drew MacEoghainn said it annoyed wearied him that the council insisted on calling work experience an apprenticeship.
He said: “I’ve been an apprentice myself and it lasted five years and at the end I became a qualified cooper. “I have pals that served four years and became sparks, joiners and so on and we accepted low wages as we knew at the end of the day we would be qualified.”
Mr MacEoghainn added: “Kids now are getting one year ‘apprenticeships’ and get paid well below minimum wage and come out with nothing apart from work experience. That’s what this is – work experience.
“Give them a proper apprenticeship and have them qualified at the end, and do not pay them poverty wages in the pretence that they are completing an apprenticeship.”
The SNP, who are boycotting The Dumbarton Democrat, refuse to speak to our digital newspaper on this or any other matter.