Any former Carillion apprentice who is yet to find alternative employment following the collapse of the outsourcing giant will be paid after January, despite reports claiming this was not the case, the government has confirmed.
A story by the Huffington Post on Monday claimed that the apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton had said payments to the out-of-work construction trainees would stop at the end of January.
Her words were taken from an answer to a parliamentary question submitted by the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, which was published on January 24.
“The ESFA can confirm that all affected apprentices will continue to be paid by the receiver until the end of January,” Ms Milton said last week.
The Department for Education has however now confirmed that pay will strech beyond January 31.
“At present all former Carillion apprentices will continue to be paid while alternative employers are being sought,” a DfE spokesperson told FE Week. “We have taken steps to protect learners by transferring the training of all Carillion apprentices to the Construction Industry Training Board.”
She added that the CITB has already secured new employment, with wages, for over half of the apprentices and is working “around the clock” to find alternative employers for the others.
This will be welcome news to the hundreds of former Carillion apprentices who are still out of work.
Ms Rayner described the decision as a “U-turn” and said she hopes the government now sticks to its word.
“If the Government has finally caved in to pressure from Labour and trade unions and agreed to continue paying the Carillion apprentices, that is welcome news for hundreds of people who had been left to face the prospect of their wages drying up by the end of the week,” she told FE Week.
“We hope that this is the final u-turn and that this time they stick to their promises.”
She added that the apprentices have done “nothing but work hard” for jobs and qualifications, yet they have “faced the threat of being abandoned without pay, work or continued training”.
Ministers have “caused them unnecessary fear and uncertainty by failing to give clear and simple guarantees”, Ms Rayner said.
Around 1,400 trainee bricklayers and carpenters have been left with uncertain futures ever since the UK’s largest employer of construction apprentices entered liquidation two weeks ago.
They were being taught at the company’s skills division, Carillion Training Services, which held a £6.5 million ESFA contract last year.
The new education secretary Damian Hinds promised last week that he would ensure every apprentice affected by the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion would be found new employment to complete their training.