West Dunbartonshire Council has pledged to continue offering a high standard of apprenticeship opportunities as part of a joint agreement with trade unions.

The Apprenticeship Agreement reaffirms the Council’s commitment to developing a skilled workforce for the area’s future economy as well as supporting people to realise their full potential.

The Council is already dedicated to delivering apprenticeships aligned with future workforce needs and the needs of the local economy and ensuring the programmes challenge job stereotyping and are available to all.

By signing up to the Apprenticeship Agreement the guarantees for these employees have been taken even further.

The Agreement sets out a vow to provide high quality on and off-the-job training for every apprentice, the same terms and conditions as other Council employees, and payment at the training rate.

In addition, they will receive employability assistance through Working4U to ensure they are moving into employment when their programme ends, a guaranteed interview for any Council vacancy where the essential criteria is met, and the opportunity to join a trade union if they wish to.

Apprentice supervisors will also be given more training, and each apprentice will be assigned a mentor for guidance and support during their programme.

Councillors, officers and Unison representatives met today as the document was officially signed.

It follows significant ongoing Council investment in apprenticeships.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “It is so important that we not only offer a high standard of apprenticeship opportunity but also can reassure the people taking part in the programmes that they will receive proper terms and conditions, proper training, and proper support if they move on from the Council.

“This agreement sets out some guarantees that will ensure every apprenticeship post has real benefits for the person involved and for our local economy.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “As a Council we recognise the significant role that work-based apprenticeships have on our future economy, but also how valuable they can be to residents who want to learn on the job and gain recognised qualifications.

“We already have a number of apprenticeship programmes in place in West Dunbartonshire, across a number of different service areas, including school based foundation apprenticeships. I am glad that this agreement has been made, as it will not only attract new applicants to come forward, but also ensure the high standard we have come to expect of these programmes will continue for many years to come.”

In 2018, the Council committed to investing £1 million into apprenticeship programmes.

The scheme will see £250,000 spent on apprentices each year until 2021, with a particular focus on school leavers.

A total of 79 people were recruited into apprenticeships in 2017/18 – far exceeding expected targets.

In August last year, the Council welcomed 24 new starts in services including Greenspace, Business Administration and Construction Craft.

Many Council apprentices go on to secure permanent posts on completion of their apprenticeship.

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