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Gloucestershire Business News

SGS College looks to ease worries of apprentices

The immediate future of apprenticeship schemes is being placed in doubt amid reports trainees are becoming the first to be made jobless during the coronavirus pandemic.

And many companies struggling to deal with the lockdown say they may not be able to accommodate apprentices who they pledged to take on prior to the crisis.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College is keen to allay the fears of young people facing an uncertain future and is encouraging those out of work to contact them to discuss the many options that still are open.

SGS learning area manager David Quinton said: "Many companies in the construction industry are beginning to let apprentices go because they can't sustain them.

"Learners who have begun their apprenticeship courses with our college are contacting us to say they feel they are being left on the scrapheap and are unsure how they will complete their courses without the backing of an employer.

"We are keen to assure them there are pathways open to them - from visiting the National Apprenticeship website to help with finding a new apprenticeship opportunities, to applying to further education colleges such as ours, where they can explore online learning and where we will offer them an unconditional place for September to be able to study in the area that they were undertaking with their apprenticeship on a full-time course. "

Mr Quinton believes because colleges are unable to offer open days, young people - particularly those leaving school this summer at 16 - are missing out on vital advice.

He said: "We can talk to them about possibly looking at one of our other courses which they can focus on to broaden their skills before re-entering their chosen industry once we come out of the coronavirus situation."

SGS College

Employers linked to the college are facing just as much uncertainty.

Jake Bancroft, of Bancroft-Livingstone Bathrooms, is concerned businesses like his will miss out on the benefits of having a trainee straight from school.

He said: "The challenge will be that many apprentices may be a year older by the time they come to us but not have that years' experience and companies such as ours would be paying a higher salary without having benefited from that first year of work."

He has had to put a hold on taking on two SGS apprentices and furloughed a third apprentice who had been with him several years.

Mr Quinton says the key to finding the solution for businesses like Bancroft-Livingstone and the apprentices linked to the college is to keep dialogue open and for both sides so we can support each other with online training support in finding apprentices who have relevant trade skills once this crisis is over.

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