Camping courier apprenticeships get short shrift

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has been continuing to advertise adult apprenticeships of less than a year, months after the government announced plans to clamp down on short programmes.

In early December FE Week found the official NAS Twitter account tweeting a link (see end of article) on its vacancy matching website to 70 campsite courier apprenticeship vacancies. The jobs, based in France, were described as fixed-term contracts of nine months.

We will tighten our processes for working with providers to post vacancies, as well as those we select to promote through other channels,”

The government has since removed the adverts and told Greenbank Services, both the training provider and employer, to stop recruiting as the vacancies “did not meet its quality standard”.

Its move followed questions from FE Week about the length of the Greenbank scheme, and why NAS was advertising it.

In April the government announced adult apprenticeships needed to be a year or more “unless it involves the recognition or accreditation of prior learning and an appropriate funding reduction”. The rules came into force for new apprenticeship starts from August 1.

Elaine Bader, recruitment and training manager at Greenbank, told FE Week: “It is not due to quality as we offer a high quality programme, it is due to the advertised length of the apprenticeship.”

She added that the company had not signed up any apprentices since March, before the rule had come into place.

The company has a direct contract for 2012/13, with an adult skills budget of £118,726, with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to deliver qualifications, including the travel services apprenticeship framework.

Putting up tents, cleaning accommodation, running an efficient reception service and advising holidaymakers on places to visit were some of the responsibilities listed for the courier jobs.

It said successful candidates would be trained to deal with administration duties, such as accommodation charts, stock checks, and basic accounts.

A day-in-the-life of an apprenticeship campsite courier, which appears on the website begins: “About 8:30am, I walk down to reception. . . I have to open up and start cleaning the windows and setting out the white furniture, watering the plants and updating the weatherboard (sunny today).”

Ms Bader said Greenbank recruited up to 1,500 seasonal staff every year; between 70 to 100 of these could be apprentices.

A joint statement from the SFA and NAS said: “We have reviewed the vacancies posted by Greenbank and highlighted to them that they currently do not meet our quality standard. Therefore NAS has asked Greenbank to close the posting on apprenticeship vacancies and suspend recruitment with immediate effect.”

The funding agency said it would work closely with Greenbank to ensure it met quality requirements and funding guidelines.

NAS said it had identified how the Greenbank role had been posted on its vacancy website and promoted through Twitter.

“We will tighten our processes for working with providers to post vacancies, as well as those we select to promote through other channels,” a spokesperson said.

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  1. FE Lecturer

    Absolutely ridiculous. An apprenticeship should be three years minimum and apprentices should be studying one day a week at college for a recognised qualification. The various agencies and government are NOT managing things correctly.

    What next? Apprentice potato picker, apprenticeship in street cleaning.