Modern Apprentices in Local Government

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2013 Local Government Service Group Conference
18 February 2013
Carried as Amended

This Conference notes that the recession is impacting on jobs in the public sector: full time permanent jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate as Councils and other public sector agencies deal with the impact of reducing budgets. Support is confirmed for UNISON policies aimed at resisting attacks on our members’ jobs, pay and service conditions arising from the austerity policies of the Westminster Government.

With local authorities playing such an important role in providing jobs in the Scottish economy we also note that unemployment is rising generally, especially amongst young people. We welcome the initiative of many local authorities to help this problem by taking on young people as Modern Apprentices. However, we are concerned that such young people are effectively asked to plug gaps created by reducing resources. We consider it scandalous that Modern Apprentices who find themselves in this position are very often being paid at the minimum rate of £2.65 per hour. As this is provided by the Government this is nothing more or less than free labour that local authorities will inevitably use to their advantage. All employers are free to top up the government set minimum rate and many do so. We would not want to see the introduction of unpaid (or even purchased) internships in local government and consider the current exploitation of Modern Apprentices is leading us in this direction.

In opposition to the misuse of Modern Apprentices we resolve:

1)That every Branch should make an effort to recruit Modern Apprentices.

2)That individual Branches should approach their employers to demand that individual employers pay the living wage to Modern Apprentices.

3)That access to permanent employment is guaranteed at the end of the Modern Apprenticeship period for all whose performance and conduct justifies further employment. Trade unions should be involved with employers in discussion over the ongoing implementation of this policy.

In support of this policy UNISON should establish the employment practices of all local authorities in relation to Modern Apprentices and other apprenticeship models that also exist.