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Gloucestershire MPs campaign for better deal for electrical apprentices

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Gloucestershire MPs Martin Horwood, Laurence Robertson and Richard Graham have teamed up to press for a better deal for companies in the area who offer electrical apprenticeships.
Electrical contractor Clarkson Evans raised the issue with the MPs and asked for help to get improvements to the rules on government funding for apprentices.

The company's main complaint is not with the amount of funding but the way it is allocated: "The funding system is based on the previous year's contract, not current need," said Clarkson Evans training centre manager Lindsey Young "so for example if we cut our apprentice places in one year because of recession, our allocation of funds when demand increases again is based on recession not recovery."

In the last 10 years, Clarkson Evans has trained more than 400 electrical apprentices in the county, investing more than £2m of its own money on top of the grants it receives from the Skills Funding Agency.

"At a time when the government wants to grow the economy by creating real jobs, and when we have places to offer, it is madness to reduce the number of willing apprentices we can take on because of a set of rules that don't reflect current needs" said Young. "It's particularly frustrating that there's no flexibility to use funding allocated for 16-18 year olds to train older apprentices. Under-18s are often prohibited from construction sites so we can't employ them, and this leaves us facing a constant battle for 19+ funding".

The MPs have written to the minister Vince Cable at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, asking for a meeting to help to break the logjam.

"We all want to promote the creation of new jobs for Gloucestershire and the skills and training our young people need to start their careers" said Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood. "This seems to be a case of the rules getting in the way of common sense, and we intend to do everything we can to get this matter resolved quickly."

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