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Posted By Apprenticeships Directory on 18/01/2018 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

Theresa May urged to ensure Carillion apprentices can finish their training

Theresa May urged to ensure Carillion apprentices can finish their training

Newcastle MP Catherine McKinnell voices concerns over future of North East trainees and calls for reassurance

Prime Minister Theresa May has been asked to guarantee that construction giant Carillion’s 1,400 apprentices will be able to complete their training.

But she declined to issue any promises, saying the Government “will be looking very carefully at what action can be taken”.

Mrs May was challenged in the House of Commons by Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell , who told her she had meet apprentices in the North East who were worried about their future following the firm’s collapse.

Ms McKinnell said: “I am concerned for the 1,400 Carillion apprentices, some of whom I have met locally.”

Mrs May told the House of Commons: “I want, first, to provide reassurance to all employees working on public services for Carillion that they should continue to turn up to work, confident in the knowledge that they will be paid for the work they are providing.

“But of course the Government are not running Carillion; the Government are actually a customer of Carillion, and our focus has been on ensuring that we are providing the public services - that they are continuing to be provided uninterrupted; on reassuring workers in those public services that they will get paid.”

She added: “We are aware of the issues around apprentices, which is why the Minister with responsibility for that will be looking very carefully at what action can be taken.”

Speaking afterwards, Ms McKinnell said the response had been inadequate. She said: “It will have provided no reassurance whatsoever to the large number of, mostly young, Carillion apprentices who still don’t know whether they’ll be able to finish their placements or even get paid.

“They have been put in this dreadful situation through absolutely no fault of their own. The Government must take their share of responsibility for the collapse of this company, including by ensuring Carillion apprentices are not left high and dry.”

Mrs May told MPs that the Government was not responsible for the way Carillion was managed and had protected taxpayers by refusing to spend their money bailing out the company.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the collapse of Carillion raised questions about the Government’s reliance on private sector firms to run public services.

He highlighted a number of other examples of private businesses failing to deliver on government contracts, including Virgin/Stagecoach withdrawing from the East Coast Main Line long-distance franchise.

Mr Corbyn said that the Carillion affairs showed there was “one rule for the super-rich, another for everybody else”.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to ensure that “not a single penny more will go to the chief executive or directors of this company”.

Labour also signed contracts with private sector suppliers when it was in power, although Mr Corbyn has never hidden his belief that the last Labour government also made mistakes.

It has emerged that Carillion was in talks with the Government to save it for months before it collapsed.

Interim chief executive Keith Cochrane said it was “regrettable” discussions to arrange short-term funding had been unsuccessful.

It made a “formal request” for support from the Government on December 31 following talks during the final months of 2017, he said in a High Court document seen by the Press Association as the company filed for insolvency.

Up until as recently as Sunday, directors believed that a “constructive dialogue regarding short-term funding” was under way in order to rescue the company, he said.


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