Labour Research October 2004

Features: Congress

Union reps urged on apprentice schemes

The TUC and the Learning and Skills Council launched a new booklet, Apprenticeships: a guide for union reps and negotiators, at a packed Congress fringe meeting. It sets out the details of the new apprenticeship programmes and how union members can help promote them to employers.

The government re-launched its apprenticeship programme in May 2004 to encourage greater participation from employers and young people, and changes coming into effect in autumn 2004 will widen participation further. These include a pilot scheme for over 24-year-olds and a new scheme for 14-16-year-olds.

The booklet highlights how union reps can ensure apprenticeship programmes are of high quality and emphasises how employers can benefit from them.

Apprenticeships are available in over 160 sectors and unions are now in a strong position to influence the apprenticeship programme through representation on Sector Skills Councils.

Speaking at the launch, minister for skills and vocational education Ivan Lewis made clear the government's commitment to continue to work closely with unions on the learning and skills agenda.

TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The new Apprenticeship programmes represent a fantastic opportunity for union reps to negotiate improvements in employers' approach to learning in the workplace."