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A Christmas gift – success in saving apprenticeship delivery in Scotland

Shaun Wadsworth gives a huge thank you to those who answered the call when asked for support and continue to offer their help as we move forward on apprenticeship delivery.

BACK in May’s edition of CFJ I wrote about how CFA and its Scottish Committee had successfully lobbied CITB to help with the funding crisis that was hampering floorlaying apprenticeship delivery in Scotland. I was able to report that CITB had agreed to subsidise the shortfall in funding and support the industry (and City of Glasgow College) in working to increase Government funding for the future.

So, you can imagine the apprehension across the whole of the floorlaying sector in Scotland when in late May/early June, City of Glasgow College announced it had implemented a voluntary severance (redundancy) scheme, seeing 76 workers leave and a plan to cut another 100 jobs to tackle a £12m deficit due to a Scottish Government budget cut. This fear was realised when CFA and CITB were notified in July that the complete floorlaying department at the college was to be mothballed and apprenticeship delivery altogether would stop before the Scottish school holidays.

Despite CITB (a key stakeholder in construction apprenticeships), CFA and its members campaigning to overturn this decision considering the work that had been done to support the college in both increasing funding and support with costs of delivery, the decision could not be overturned. This left 72 apprentices already on programme displaced and another 42 apprentices on a waiting list to start their training in limbo.

There was no way the CFA and its Scottish Committee could let this happen to the Scottish floorlaying sector which believes so incredibly strongly in training for the future of the industry, so as a group we began to engage with CITB at all levels from local representatives to Tim Balcon, CITB CEO. These meetings were important to show that as an industry, not replacing the delivery with another provider would be catastrophic for the sector considering there is no other location to train apprentices in Scotland.

After a lot of meetings and conversations between all parties and an additional commitment to support in every capacity, CITB was able to propose strong commitment from its National Construction College (NCC) in Inchinnan to pick up all displaced apprentices and future delivery. NCC have been providing construction training for over 50 years and as one of the largest training colleges specialising in construction training, we could not have wished for a better provider to step in and help save provision in Scotland. It was with huge relief that NCC confirmed and set up relevant space for a like for like replacement of the area used at Glasgow College and a commitment to ensure delivery numbers remained at least the same as they were at Glasgow.

NCC has attracted experienced staff to help with delivery, addressed the waiting list of apprentices, starting two full cohorts at the beginning of October and committed to having all current apprentices displaced by City of Glasgow College back into a training environment in early 2024. CFA and CITB have also worked with Derwentside College, County Durham to help Scottish apprentices awaiting their skills test to complete their apprenticeship by providing the opportunity to sit their test there in the short term which has proved a great interim solution for those on the verge of finishing their qualification.

Whilst the displacement and upheaval over the past 12 months has been traumatic for apprentices and employers, it is fantastic news for our industry that delivery has been saved and I am delighted with the support that the CFA have received during this process that has allowed provision to continue, and this provides a great starting point for an eventual review of the delivery model to allow better efficiency and the expansion of apprenticeship numbers that industry have requested.

As the trade association for the contract flooring sector, it was imperative that we helped drive this situation to a successful outcome considering our commitment to Scottish contractors. The support of the wider industry including the Scottish Committee was invaluable at all points of this process and will continue to be as this new delivery gets underway and attention is drawn to improving the efficiency, and effectiveness of flooring apprenticeship delivery in Scotland. This speaks to longer term objectives that include securing the sustainability of the model with better funding.

Therefore a huge thank you must be given to those that answered the call when asked to support and continue to offer their help as we move forward: CITB, MacGregor Flooring Company Ltd, RJM Flooring, Veitchi Flooring Ltd, GL Floor Finishing Company Ltd, General and Technical Flooring Service, A H Floor Covering Specialists Ltd, AG Flooring Ltd, F Ball and Company Ltd, Headlam Scotland and Derwentside College.
0115 9506836
Shaun Wadsworth is CFA and FITA training manager

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