Today (Friday) members of the National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and Unison will be lobbying MPs in their constituencies as part of a campaign opposing the introduction of fees for people aged 24 and over who wish to do an apprenticeship.
The fees, which could see apprentices charged over £9,000 to learn while they work, are due to be introduced on April 1st this year and are part of wider plans to introduce fees and loans for all college students aged over 24.
Amongst the actions taking place, students and staff from Bradford College Students’ Union will be hosting a question and answer session with all four of their local MPs and campaigners in Sheffield will be asking their MPs to sign a letter to the local newspaper backing the campaign.
Toni Pearce, NUS Vice-President (Further Education), said:
“It is outrageous and deeply counter-productive to charge apprentices to work. Apprentices already accept lower wages below minimum wage pay in order to get the skills that their employers value and now older apprentices are being asked to take on thousands of pounds of debt in order to have a job which has career prospects.
“The introduction of a university style-fees system for those who were let down by the education system when they were younger must be stopped and the scrapping of fees for apprentices is the most urgent concern.”
Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary, said:
“It simply is not right to expect people to pay thousands of pounds to undertake paid work.
“Many, understandably, will reject the idea and be denied the chance to get the skills they need to get off the dole queue and help rebuild our economy. The government’s policy is a complete mess and needs urgent attention if we are to deliver the high quality apprenticeships that we so desperately need.”
Dr Mary Bousted, ATL General Secretary, said:
“We are deeply concerned that 100,000 young adults will be denied training if they have to pay the full cost of their apprenticeship training.
“The Government’s plans will hit adults and higher apprenticeships learners in engineering and other key skills particularly hard. The Government must urgently review its student loans policy to show it is genuinely committed to high quality apprenticeships and that its talk is not just all for sound-bites.”
Jon Richards, UNISON National Secretary Education and Children's Services, said:
“Charging many adult learners to undertake an apprenticeship will be disastrous for the economy. Now more than ever we should be investing in skills as a way of growing our way out of the financial crisis. Charging some learners up to £4000 a year to do a higher level apprenticeship will price many out of the labour market. UNISON is particularly concerned about the impact on vital areas such as social care where charging full fees could lead to a dangerous skills shortage. The government must act now and drop this policy.”
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.