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North East business has blasted short-term apprenticeship schemes

Following research that reveals a fifth of apprenticeships last for six months or less, a North East business has blasted short-term apprenticeship schemes, believing they offer no lasting benefit, and are being used by some companies to recruit cheap labour.

Mike Heslop, who owns supply chain maintenance firm Centrex Services, created an apprenticeship scheme to tackle the rise in youth unemployment. He has been stunned by the feedback he has received from applicants on his programme about the shortage of long-term apprenticeships, with many being advertised as a six-month scheme with no guarantee of employment on completion.

Mike says, "After speaking to candidates on Centrex’s training programme, I firmly believe some companies are using these six month schemes to take advantage of the 2.5 million unemployed young people in the UK. I worry they are recruiting young people as cheap labour to plug skills gaps, with no intention to develop their skills, or offer full-time employment.

"Short-term apprenticeships just cannot offer enough on the job experience to provide any real benefits to the individuals who take part, and I also have real question marks over the quality of training these apprentices receive."

Heslop, who launched his own apprenticeship scheme in part because he could not find people skilled in repairing the machines his company works with, believes Centrex’s programme has proved so popular because it offers a one year minimum training programme with a guarantee of employment on successful completion.

He says, "We are looking to re-skill the industry by offering a programme that benefits both Centrex and the next generation. We need talented individuals who are eager to learn, and in return we offer people the opportunity for employment that they deserve just as much as any fully qualified applicant. We are very transparent in our approach to apprenticeship programmes and I would like to see all business following the same route."

Heslop also noted that his original three apprentices have just completed their time on Centrex’s scheme and he has recently appointed another three to replace them. All will move on to full-time roles within the company.

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