Unions challenge plan to charge apprentices £9,000 fees to learn

Members of UNISON, the National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) are today lobbying MPs in their constituencies as part of a campaign opposing the introduction of fees for people aged 24 and over who wish to undertake an apprenticeship.

The fees, which could see apprentices charged over £9,000 to learn while they work, are due to be introduced on 1 April this year and are part of wider plans to introduce fees and loans for all college students aged over 24.

Among the actions taking place, students and staff from Bradford College Students’ Union will be hosting a question and answer session with all four of their local MPs, and campaigners in Sheffield will be asking their MPs to sign a letter to the local newspaper backing the campaign.

UNISON national secretary for education and children’s services Jon Richards said: “Charging many adult learners to undertake an apprenticeship will be disastrous for the economy.

“Now more than ever we should be investing in skills as a way of growing our way out of the financial crisis.”

He added that charging learners to do a higher level apprenticeship would price many out of the labour market.

“UNISON is particularly concerned about the impact on vital areas such as social care, where charging full fees could lead to a dangerous skills shortage.

“The government must act now and drop this policy.”