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More needs to be done to ensure apprentices get treated fairly

Published 21 October 2015

Rogue bosses are exploiting young apprentices by getting them to act as skivvies and make the tea.

It is said that thousands of young trainees who sign up for the apprenticeship schemes are spending their time making hot drinks and cleaning instead of gaining vital skills.

In a forthcoming report Ofsted is expected to say that many of the courses fail to provide young people with the abilities and knowledge employers are looking for.

When it was set up, the aim of the apprenticeship scheme was to ensure that the learner got a good opportunity to work with experienced staff, learn job specific skills and study for a work-based qualification during their working week.

As well as the apprentice gaining valuable work experience there are also benefits for employers, which include the fact they get an extra employee who can be mentored towards a senior role within the organisation.

The apprenticeship scheme has come under fire previously, as short-term placements were not thought to be long enough to provide any worthwhile or beneficial on-the-job experience for the individuals who take part.

Providers of the apprenticeship programme are now being encouraged to ensure they add value to a rookie worker’s career, and this will be judged by increased responsibility at work, better promotion prospects and higher earnings.

The shocking way in which one apprentice was treated in the workplace became headline news earlier this year. A Greater Manchester factory boss was jailed for eight months following the horrific death of a 16-year-old trainee, who died after becoming trapped in a machine he was not trained to use.

The government is now aiming to reform apprenticeships, and putting an end to poor quality training is at the heart of the plan.

Changes will also include legislation to provide protection for the term "apprenticeship" to prevent misuse by providers in England.

Apprenticeships, which play a role in tackling youth unemployment, will also be included in performance tables from 2018.

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