Disappeared Carillion apprentices 'bother' minister
Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton has admitted that the disappearance of some of Carillion's 1,400 apprentices following the contractor's collapse "bothers" her and that the situation for some still needed to be resolved.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) devised a special grant and a package of support for employers who want to take up Carillion's 1,400 displaced apprentices.
The grant included £500 on sign-up and another £500 after three months.
By the end of January this year, 553 Carillion apprentices were given job offers.
Speaking to the Education Committee today, Milton said that the "vast majority" had now been found employment, although she did not have exact figures.
Milton said: "We should be mindful of the lessons of Carillion. If a big employer goes down and there are a lot of apprentices, these are things that we must make sure that we have got the processes in place to protect learners.
"The CITB did a brilliant job and contacted all the apprentices. The vast majority were found new employers.
"The situation hasn't resolved for all of them, as is inevitable, but some of them have disappeared off the radar which actually bothers me.
"There might be only one or two but these were people on an apprenticeship programme, getting some skills, and we don't want to lose people who at one point who were keen to do an apprenticeship."
Milton said there had been "massive change" in the way apprenticeships are run since the introduction of an apprenticeship levy, with which the government aims to spend £2.4bn on apprenticeships by 2020, and the creation of the Institute for Apprenticeships and that she viewed quality of training as "absolutely paramount".
Asked if she viewed the levy, which has seen the number of apprentices fall since its introduction, as a success, she said: "Yes, in as much as businesses in this country had a poor history in investing in skills and in growing their own workforce. Despite the very best intents of successive governments, it has never quite worked and what I think the levy has done is give employers a focus that has made them realise this is something they have to address."
Asked why the number of 16-18-year-old apprentices has fallen by 38% in last 12 months, Milton said: "I think there is a number of reasons why the level of 16-18-year-old apprentices has gone down, however the group that particularly concerns me are those that are in employment that are maybe on zero hours contracts because we aren't getting at those yet."
However, she pointed to the Five Cities project, in which the government has invested £15m which is looking at those hard-to-reach groups in London, Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.