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SELECT calls on new Scottish government to take a fresh look at 'meaningful' apprenticeships

SELECT, the authoritative trade body for the electrotechnical industry in Scotland, has thrown down a challenge to all the main political parties, they say - not just to pay lip service to the vital issue of apprenticeships but to work to create real and meaningful career opportunities.

David Wright

SELECT’s member companies – it has more than 1250 in all of Scotland’s constituencies – account for 90% of all electrical installation work carried out in the country. They have a collective turnover of £1 billion and provide employment for 15,000 people.
David Wright, Head of External Affairs at SELECT, said: “Since the Scottish Parliament was established 12 years ago, we have worked closely with all parties and support a positive stance on apprenticeships which are vital to the future of our industry and the country.

“However, we are concerned that politicians in pursuit of targets may be tempted to promise large numbers of new apprenticeships and that these would be most easily delivered by giving ‘accreditation of prior learning’ (APL), which simply acknowledges that some reasonably significant element of learning has taken place.”

Mr. Wright called on politicians to direct scarce funding resources instead at “meaningful” apprenticeships, where real skills are added so that the apprentice emerges at the end of his or her course qualified in a trade that he or she did not have before.

He pointed out that meaningful apprenticeships were created by business owners, who employed and paid trainees on the sound commercial basis that the volume of work they undertake and the new and valuable skills they achieve justifies their continuing employment.
Conversely, the APL route is usually delivered by commercially-motivated providers, thus directing public funds into a private purse. The same is true of programme-led “apprenticeships” at colleges.

SELECT called on the parties to direct funding towards more mature candidates, who tended to be more committed to their chosen career than apprentices entering at 16. It also asked whoever forms the next government to give much more serious consideration to mechanisms for giving smaller companies the opportunity to participate in public sector contracts.
David Wright said: “At the moment, PFI, PPP and SFT work is usually allocated to companies based outside Scotland. It is time to drive down “parcel sizes” of work in the public sector, to give smaller firms a fair crack of the whip.”

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