Hundreds of young apprentices dropped out of their studies and employment following the collapse of construction giant Carillion, new figures confirm.
Some 163 construction trainees left education, employment and training altogether after Carillion was declared insolvent, despite a £3million government effort to keep them in work.
A further 149 left their education programme to look for other work elsewhere.
The figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), obtained by HuffPost UK, reveal that 70% of Carillion’s 1,148 apprentices were moved to alternative programmes or jobs.
Many of those assumed to have dropped out could not be contacted by the CITB, which is linked to the Department for Education, following the collapse.
Carillion – which struggled under a mounting debt pile – was believed to be “too big to fail” before it went under a year ago in January 2018. It held huge public contracts, from Ministry of Defence deals to multi-million pound NHS works, but was criticised by MPs for “recklessness, hubris and greed”.
“The mystery is not that it collapsed, but that it lasted so long,” they said at the time of its collapse.
Most of Carillion’s contracts have since been taken on by its rivals.
The government was expected to spend around £3m to find new work for the apprentices affected, according to the National Audit Office.
At the time of the collapse, the government refused to offer reassurances that apprentices would not lose out.
Trade unions said the fact young workers were in fact affected shows the “direct human misery” caused by the firm’s demise.
Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “These are really important figures as they demonstrate the direct human misery and loss of talent caused by Carillion’s collapse.
“At a time of acute and growing skills shortages in the construction , the loss of any apprentices further severely weakens the industry and undermines its future.
“The government is the construction industry’s largest customer, it was a huge failure of political will that jobs could not be found for over 300 displaced Carillion apprentices.
“These figures further underline that the government failed to protect the innocent victims of Carillion’s collapse and that it is has not learnt the lessons from the biggest corporate failure in the UK in modern times.”
Deborah Madden, of the CITB, said: “While not every apprentice was redeployed, and in fact some chose to leave construction, the fact that industry came together to help shows that there is a strong commitment to training in construction.
“Together we secured this important pipeline of talent and gave over 900 individuals the opportunity to continue in their chosen career.”
Meanwhile, Unite is stepping up calls for a criminal investigation into Carillion on the first anniversary of the group going out of business.
An ongoing investigation into Carillion’s collapse by the government’s Insolvency Service could see the company’s directors banned from leading businesses.
The report by the Official Receiver is expected to be published later this year.
Unite has accused the Government of not taking enough action to ensure there wasn’t another “corporate meltdown” at Carillion.
The union said the cost to the taxpayer was over £150 million, including redundancy pay and “lucrative” work for accountants.