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Supporting First 4 Skills apprentices

Wednesday 08-03-2017 - 16:40

On Friday 3 March, the training provider First 4 Skills went into administration and ceased to run as a training provider. First 4 Skills was the training provider for over 6,500 apprentices and was one of the first training providers to have an apprentice representation body to affiliate to NUS.

Obviously, my heart goes out to staff who have lost jobs but my concern is what happens to the apprentices who have come to work this week with little or no idea about what is happening with their qualification.

The Department for Education (DfE) released the following statement on Friday: “We are working to ensure learners’ programmes are not disrupted and that where required alternative training provision is identified and transfer arrangements made. We will work with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to ensure they are fully involved in the transfer process.” – Department for Education

It is good to hear that DfE is working towards ensuring apprentices are not disrupted by the closure of F4S but I am worried about the lack of detail that the department has released.

Because of this, I am today contacting DfE to ask the following questions to get some clarification on how the department will be supporting the apprentices affected.

  1. Have all apprentices from First 4 Skills been informed that First 4 Skills has gone into administration?
  2. Will any apprentices lose their apprenticeship place because of the First 4 Skills going out of business?
  3. If so, will those apprentices be guaranteed replacement apprenticeships?
  4. Will any apprentices be delayed in completing their qualification because of this?
  5. If so, what will the department be putting in place to support these apprentices?
  6. Will apprentices who worked for First 4 Skills as well as having them as a training provider be offered alternate employment?
  7. Did the department have any pre-warning that First 4 Skills would be going into administration? And if so what plans did you put in place to protect the apprentices from F4S?
  8. What will DfE be putting in place to make sure apprentices are not effected by any future closures of training providers?

But there aren’t only questions for the Department for Education, there are also questions for NUS and our membership. It’s quite possible that this is the first you’ve heard of First 4 Skills shutting down.

It’s possible this is the first time you’ve realised that First 4 Skills are a Constituent Member of NUS. It’s even possible this is the first time you’ve realised that there are apprentice training providers in our membership.

So if what’s happening at First 4 skills is new information to you I would ask you this question. If it was a University or College that had gone into administration last week and 6,500 students were left without an education provider would this be the first time you had heard about it?

We talk a lot about collectivism in our movement. We talk about the power of many and about how when we come together we can make positive change for everyone in our movement. But do our actions always match up to what we say? The apprentices who have come to work this week with a lot of unanswered questions about the future of their education are in an unacceptable position. So let’s make sure we’ve all got their backs.

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