Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Young people should not be cheap labour or let down by the British government

17 January, 2006

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has written to the Education Department expressing his concerns about the availability of Placements for school Leavers in trades and vocations. The new school curriculum means that all young people aged 14 are entitled to 24 subjects and 8 of these must be of a vocational nature. Schools are expected to partner with other schools and or colleges to ensure this entitlement is available.   However, Michael Ferguson who recently met with Heather Stevens Director of Skills at the Department of Employment and Learning has said that the Government has not made sufficient arrangements to ensure that placements are available for young people to take up their career choices on leaving school and they may well be wasting two years preparing for a trade for which there is no placement.   Supporting his concerns Michael Ferguson said,   “The government requires Schools to form Partnerships (Local Partnership Solutions) or LPSs with other Schools and FurtherEducationColleges to ensure young people leaving school are able to take up skills based trades and vocations. However the Government has made no arrangements to secure those placements for young people are even before the change is fully implemented young people are unable to find placements and in many cases they are put out of colleges in their second year because employers no longer want them.   It is the case that last year the Lisburn Institute for Further & Higher Education could not even put on a course for ‘Electrical Installation’ because there were no placements for the young people.   It would be grossly unfair to encourage a young person at the age of 14 to take up a trade then at 16 tell him or her that there is no place or to ‘indenture’ them into a trade were they don’t receive a minimum wage which is mostly the case at the moment and allow unscrupulous employers dump them in their third year because they may be obliged to pay them a wage which also happens and consequently the young person has no wage, placement and also is denied the opportunity to finish their NVQ Level 3 Qualification at College.   This is the worst sort of exploitation and the Government has failed these young people to date and is deliberately setting targets that they can not meet and the is exemplified by the Victoria Square development which promised 200 Apprenticeships and delivered less than 90 few of which came from areas like the Falls and Shankill."ENDS

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