For pupils currently in Year 9 or below, compulsory education and training will continue until they are 18. However, this does not have to take place in school. For many young people, job-based training schemes may be the preferred option. Apprenticeship programmes are one possibility. These are provided by public and private sector organisations for workers in a wide range of job roles. Last week, for instance, Morrisons supermarket group pledged to create 1,000 jobs for homeless people who, after three months training, will be able to take up apprenticeships in roles such as butchers, bakers or fishmongers. (BBC, 1st November 2010)
In the public sector the number of apprenticeships is set to rise over the next few years with at least 21,000 new places being made available in the NHS, education and local government. Good quality apprenticeships can have multiple benefits. The apprentices themselves gain skills and confidence; the organisations in which they work can become more productive and efficient, and the economy as a whole can grow.
UNISON is the largest public sector trade union in the UK. It works to protect the interests of its 1.3 million members in issues such as pay, working conditions and job security. UNISON has been closely involved in the introduction of apprenticeship programmes in the public sector. By negotiating and working with employers it has been able to exert its influence to ensure that apprentices in the public sector have access to high quality training, are supported in the workplace and are provided with fair pay and conditions.
1. What is a trade union?
2. Outline some of the benefits to workers of being a member of a trade union like UNISON.
3. Using the case study, analyse the ways that UNISON has helped to develop high quality public sector apprenticeships for young people.
Answers to questions
1. What is a trade union?
A trade union is an organisation that represents the mutual interests of employees across a range of issues.
2. Outline some of the benefits to workers of being a member of a trade union like UNISON
- Collective bargaining which can lead to: Improved pay; fair, safe and secure working conditions; better job security
- Provision of legal advice and services
- Special offers and discounts
- Personal development opportunities
3. Using the case study, analyse the ways that UNISON has helped to develop high quality public sector apprenticeships for young people. UNISON has:
- Developed positive working partnerships with employers
- Ensured that apprenticeships do not replace existing jobs
- Identified existing apprenticeship schemes which show best practice
- Been active in persuading the Low Pay Commission to set fair and appropriate pay levels. All apprentices are now covered by minimum wage laws.
- Negotiated the same entitlement to holiday or sick leave
- Agreed terms for rewards and conditions
- Represented employees to ensure that well-organised supervision is provided for apprentices