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West Berkshire apprenticeships provider calls for immediate Government support to deal with impact of coronavirus

Industry is on brink of collapse

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886637

WBTC  top for employer satisfaction results

Matt Garvey

THE managing director of a West Berkshire apprenticeship provider is calling for an immediate change in Government policy to prevent a crisis in the sector.

Matt Garvey, of West Berkshire Training Consortium (WBTC), said the Government must provide financial support for independent training providers – which are responsible for 70 per cent of apprenticeships nationwide – during the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, the Department for Education (DfE) has promised to only support further education colleges, such as Newbury College, while private training companies must fall back on emergency business support programmes such as loans and the Job Retention Scheme.

Without similar support from the DfE, Mr Garvey believes that independent training providers like WBTC – which trains around 400 apprentices – could disappear within weeks.

He said: “Clearly we’ve got no new business coming in as at times like this you don’t recruit and you don’t train – so we’re seeing a complete collapse of the market.

“What’s at stake are all existing apprenticeships that are unable to be completed because the provider no longer exists and the complete loss of infrastructure to take on this year’s apprentices.

“I’m getting quite desperate we’ll just run out of money owing to this rather strange and contradictory policy of helping one type of organisation who delivers apprenticeships and refusing to help another type.

“It’s a crisis that could easily be averted if the Government just said ‘we’ll give the support to all apprenticeship providers because we don’t want that decimation’ – but for some reason I can’t fathom, they are steadfastly refusing.”

WBTC has been providing youths with apprenticeships in the district for 37 years, and in that time has seen more than 15,000 people go through the system.

Mr Garvey – who has been with the organisation since 2000 – feels the history and presence of the WBTC in the district is in danger of being lost, leaving young people with nowhere else to turn. 

He said: “On our other programme, for those not ready for our apprenticeships – exclusively for 16- to 18-year-olds – they’ve been through the system, didn’t do well at school or were kicked out of college.

“If we don’t exist, where will they go?

“They’ve already been through the system.

“We’ve trained over 15,000 apprentices over the years, many of whom are now grown up and maybe even running their own businesses.

“It’s really worrying that this long-standing heart of the community could just disappear.”

A petition has been set up aiming to convince the Government to provide support for independent training providers. 

To sign the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/gavin-williamson-cbe-mp-secretary-of-state-for-education-save-apprenticeship-training-providers-dd21cbf6-1d35-4a74-8949-830caab18d96?recruiter=1070274056&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition  

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