Carillion apprentices left reeling from the construction giant’s collapse won’t be paid by the Government after January, HuffPost UK has learnt.
The bankrupt outsourcing firm had a £6.5m public contract to train apprentices and public sector or public/private partnership contracts worth a staggering £1.7bn.
But ministers have confirmed apprentices - estimated to be around 1,400 in number - who were training with the firm will no longer get money from the Official Receiver after Wednesday.
Unless they have secured a new placement, it means scores of apprentices will be left unable to pay their bills.
It comes despite assurances by Cabinet Office minister David Lidington that those working for Carillion full-time would be paid and trainees would not lose out.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “This simply isn’t good enough. Ministers had promised that these apprentices were being taken back in-house and that they were doing everything to keep them in training. But now they admit that they could stop being paid within a week.
“On their watch, Carillion was handed millions of pounds of public money and allowed to become the country’s biggest provider of construction apprenticeships. They cannot now just stand by and allow thousands of apprentices who have done nothing but work hard for their qualifications to be abandoned, without pay, work or continued training.
“Only months after the collapse of LearnDirect highlighted the risks of over-reliance on private companies for the provision of adult training, it’s high time the Tory Government started learning the lessons of their previous failures.”
Carillion, which was the UK’s largest construction trainer, went bankrupt earlier this month, leaving behind £5bn of liabilities, just £29m in cash and a long list of unfinished public works. Its apprentices told HuffPost UK how they were kept in the dark about their pay.
They have a fresh training provider in the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) but many have not yet secured new placements, meaning hundreds could eventually struggle to complete their qualifications.
The CITB has said firms will be offered incentives to step in and take them on, but nothing was certain.
Skills and Apprenticeship Minister Anne Milton said “robust” contingency plans had been put in place since the firm’s collapse.
She said: “The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) can confirm that all affected apprentices will continue to be paid by the receiver until the end of January.
“Following the announcement on the 15 January 2018, regarding the collapse of Carillion, the ESFA have enacted robust contingency plans and identified the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) as the best placed alternative provider.
“The CITB are currently utilising their existing employer contacts in the sector and the grant incentives they have available in order to secure existing employers or find alternative employers for the apprentices to complete their frameworks or standards.
“Once alternative employment has been secured, it will be the responsibility of these individual employers to determine the frequency of payments to their apprentices.”