too many youngsters are not getting a chance to put their first foot on the employment ladder.
For immediate release
‘WHITE VAN MAN’ CAN HOLD THE KEY TO MORE APPRENTICESHIPS
Modern apprenticeships must change in order to get more young people working, according to one of Scotland’s leading businessmen.
Gerard Eadie CBE, Chairman of windows, doors and conservatories company CR Smith (www.crsmith.co.uk), believes there is little incentive for sole traders to hire apprentices due to the college block release element of their training.
In their first year, apprentices will spend 22 weeks at college and in the second 14 weeks. This is on a full pay, a significant time and financial expense that the nation’s ‘white van men’ cannot afford.
Mr Eadie said:
“There are few unemployed joiners, plumbers or electricians as even if they have been through redundancy from a big firm they will have set up on their own.
“Scotland is a nation of small businesses. A large proportion of them will be the ‘man with a van’ – the self-employed qualified tradesmen, who run their offices from the cab of a Ford Transit.
“Enterprising and hard-working, they represent a thriving part of our economy. What if each of them was able to take on an apprentice – some extra labour to grow their business and someone to learn on the job?
“However, there is little incentive for them to take on a trade apprentice because of the way the current programme is set up.
“So something has to change. To help these young people, we have to look again at the modern apprenticeship structure and get it working for small businesses and sole traders as well as big companies.”
In the UK as a whole, there are 2.8m sole traders. If each of those hired just one apprentice, then this would have a significant impact on youth employment.
Small and medium enterprises account for over 90% of Scottish businesses, employing over half of the population. The effect of this sector in Scotland alone cannot be underestimated.
Mr Eadie adds:
“At the moment, too many youngsters are not getting a chance to put their first foot on the employment ladder. They are being consigned to draw benefits, with no prospect of work.
“So something has to change. To help these young people, we have to look again at the modern apprenticeship structure and get it working for small businesses and sole traders as well as big companies. Changing the system of block release by going back to night classes, day release or Saturday morning school would instantly make if far more feasible for ‘white van man’ to employ apprentices. For these tradesmen, it would mean having the young person on the job at the times they need them.
“I recognise that there would be challenges in changing the system, but I believe that apprenticeships are crucial for Scotland’s future growth. In tough times we have to think differently. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get young people into a job and stop putting obstacles in the way?”
Gerard Eadie started his career as an apprentice and is a passionate ambassador for apprenticeships.
Notes to Editors:
• CR Smith is a family business, run by Gerard Eadie since 1977. It is Scotland’s leading replacement upvc windows and conservatories business.
• The company employs nearly 350 across manufacturing, installation, sales and customer service.
6 October 2011
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