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GCSE school leavers need placements, good training and minimum wage

24 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has welcomed the examination of trades and vocational opportunities for young school leavers. The Party spokesperson has met with Training organisations, CITB, AMICUS and Permanent Secretaries for both DE and DEL over recent years as part of a campaign to end the exploitation of young people by unscrupulous employers.

Part of this campaigned including asking previous Direct Rule Ministers to:

· Underwrite insurance for apprenticeships

· Guarantee placements given the new Reform Order

· Refuse apprentices to employers who refuse to pay minimum wages and/or pay them off when they are required to pay a wage in NVQ Y3

· Professional Passport all Apprenticeship Programmes under the 'Modern Apprenticeship Model'

· Regulate down through the Supply Chain the delivery of Modern Apprenticeship Programmes on all Public Capital Spending schemes e.g. construction of New Schools, Roads and Hospitals etc.

Commenting after the publication of GCSE results as many young people explore vocational and trade opportunities Michael Ferguson said,

" Sinn Féin made our position very clear to successive British Direct Rule Minister's that setting targets for the delivery of apprenticeships, as Angela Smith did in November 2005 (10,000 new apprenticeships by 2010) was not realistic unless the government was prepared to support such apprenticeships with investment and work with those Employers who were prepared to use best practice in the delivery of training and wages for young people.

"Sinn Fein has complained to the British Government about the shameful exploitation of young people under the 'Job Skills' programme and its failure to challenge rogue employers for their abuse of school leavers".

"The British Government's support for the new Education Reform Order which now offers all young people 8 trade and vocation opportunities at the age of 14 including pre-apprenticeship programmes must also include delivering the placements for young people when they eventually leave school and to date they have not done this.

"It is crucial that the British Government practice what it preaches and that means guaranteeing places for young people when they leave school, ensuring that they are adequately insured, properly trained and paid a minimum wage and they can do this when they award Public Investment Tenders to Developers who regulate this good practice down through the Supply Chain.

" Sinn Fein in its consultations with CITB and the Unions as well as Voluntary and Community organisations all agree that if we want to deliver the skills we need for the economy then on one hand the British Government needs to move beyond the rhetoric and support good practice and not to allow rogue employers to masquerade as self employed entrepreneurs with no responsibility for their own skills needs and the Victoria Square development is an example of this failure." ENDS

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