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Assembly to hear of ‘scandal’ over Derry apprenticeships

10 January, 2008

The Stormont Assembly is to hold a special debate on the Derry apprenticeships 'scandal', following an intervention by local Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson.

Ms. Anderson said:

"I have tabled an adjournment debate on this issue which will take place next Tuesday. I took this action following a number of discussions with local educationalists and trade unionists who are appalled at how Derry is being stripped of apprenticeship training.

"Under the 'Training For Success' apprentice training scheme which was originally introduced by British Direct rule Ministers, Derry colleges and training centres have lost a number of key schemes.

"For instance, plumbing, electrical and mechanics training have all been centralised in the greater Belfast area.

"It is a scandalous situation that young people from this city who want to secure an apprenticeship have no option but to travel to Belfast or Ballymena.

"There are also very serious concerns about the procurement process which led to the training programmes being awarded to private firms.

"In particular, the mechanics and motor vehicle training contract was awarded to a firm called Carter & Carter which clearly did not meet the tendering requirements as they had no staff or premises in the North of Ireland at the time.

"Despite this, they were awarded the contract ahead of the North West Regional College which met all the tendering criteria.

"Carter and Carter is now facing very serious and well-publicised financial difficulties and there is a real doubt as to whether they will be able to fulfil their obligations under this contract.

"I will be raising all of these issues during next week's debate and calling for a fundamental review of the procurement system which allowed this to happen. I have also arranged a meeting with the Education and Learning Minister Reg Empey later this month when I will call on him to intervene directly to address this situation." ENDS

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