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CCATF Chair raises sector concerns with Education Minister

CCATF Chair raises sector concerns with Education Minister

Thursday 19th March 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

RE: Exceptional (construction) apprenticeship support measures

Further to the recent letter addressed to the Prime Minister, dated 17th March 2020 from the Construction Leadership Council and the now imminent closure of all the UK’s Further Education provision as a result of the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic, I write in my capacity as an employer, a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and as chairman of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) – representing approximately 15,000 current employed, supported or managed construction apprentices. 

The wider issues faced by the construction and infrastructure sector have been well made including the employment of approximately 3.3 million people and the contribution of between 12% and 14% of our GDP and the measures suggested in the Construction Leadership Council’s letter to support the sector are pragmatic, recognising the crucial role the sector will play in supporting the delivery of any recovery from the impact of this pandemic.

However, we must also learn from past experiences; the financial crisis in 2007-08 and the more recent demise of Carillion, that apprenticeships numbers and apprentices are very quickly and massively affected as result of sudden change and by uncertainties faced by businesses, large and small. One of the interventions, as a direct consequence of the last financial crisis was the development of a Task Force, where construction industry representatives worked together to support displaced and ‘at risk’ apprentices. We at the CCATF worked closely with John Denham and helped to support many displaced and at risk apprentices through the then ‘Vacancy Matching Service’

I appreciate that’s not quite where we are now and that there are many critical and extra-ordinary demands for government support, however today we also have many more tools to help minimise the impact of any on-going uncertainty regarding the continuity of employment for apprentices in the UK’s workplace.                                                                          

Firstly, we have a phenomenally strong and more robust Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN) lead by Jason Holt CBE, where at the earliest opportunity you can convene a robust cross-sector Task Force to address these issues. And secondly, you have the power of the Apprenticeship Levy and the ability to significantly offset the likelihood of displacement and risk of redundancy through measures aimed to ensure continuity of employment for all apprentices.

At this point my ask is simple, that you consider all flexibilities in the redistribution of any unspent current Apprenticeship Levy and suspend the expiry of any subsequent unspent future Levy funds, which are then ring fenced, for any future apprenticeship related interventions that may be required to maintain and support current apprentices and assist with any displacement of future apprentices across all sectors.

Obviously, there is far more we may need to do but the sooner we can send a positive message to employers and apprentices alike the quicker we can recover from the impact of this pandemic. We would be delighted to support you and the Government in any way we can to keep construction operational during this time and to safeguard apprenticeships and to avoid many other thousands of potential job losses.

Yours sincerely,

Martyn W Price MBE

Chairman Cross-Industry Apprenticeship Task Force

Apprenticeship Ambassador

Workforce Development Director O’Halloran & O’Brien Ltd

 

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