Dole-busting aid went to 10,000 employees in Scotland

AT LEAST 10,000 publicly-funded apprenticeships aimed at lifting Scotland’s young people off the dole scrapheap were given to workers already in established jobs, it can be revealed today.

New figures confirm that, last year, four out of every ten Modern Apprenticeships – which give workers accredited skills to learn a trade – went to people who had already been in their job for more than six months. Last night, the revelation prompted claims from Labour that the scheme was a “con” and that many of the MAs awarded were existing jobs simply “re-badged”.

The revelation came after ministers said they wanted most MAs to be given to “new starts” to provide opportunities to the 100,000 young Scots who are unemployed.

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Modern Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, giving them the chance to combine a paid job with workplace training and study, with a qualification at the end.

The new figures, released by the body which runs the scheme, Skills Development Scotland, reveal for the first time how many of last year’s 26,000 MA recruits had been in their job for more than six months when they started training.

Among all recruits, 61 per cent had been in post for up to six months, with the rest – 39 per cent – in work for longer than six months.

Among 16-19-year-olds, the figure for those in work for less than six months was 81 per cent – with 19 per cent having been in their job for longer than that.

Labour claimed the figures showed training courses were being offered to existing employees to meet targets.

Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s shadow minister for youth employment, claimed: “One of the Scottish Government’s flagship policies has been exposed as a blatant con. They said they had created 25,000 apprenticeships. What they in fact did was take at least 10,000 people who were already in jobs and re-badge their employment as apprenticeships.”

But both SDS and the Scottish Government claimed that any lag in youngsters beginning their MA after getting a job was due to the fact their apprenticeship training started a few months after they started work, or because employers wanted to put recruits on probation before they took them on as full-time apprentices.

An SDS spokesman: “When an MA starts with an employer they do not always commence their training straightaway. MAs are geared towards helping new recruits but also the up-skilling of existing employees to gain invaluable skills and industry recognised qualifications. The 16-to-19 years age bracket is a priority and the majority of these MAs are newly employed.”