Stirling Council has signed up to public service union UNISON’s ‘Apprenticeships Charter’ – ensuring trainees receive above National Minimum Wage pay and quality training.

Finance and Economy Convenor Cllr Margaret Brisley committed Stirling Council to the scheme, which offers more young people the opportunity to earn while they learn.

The local authority currently employs 91 apprentices, with a further 115 employees undertaking professional learning to develop their careers.

The ‘Apprenticeships Charter’ agreement aims to give more young people the chance to work and study to gain a skill, while ensuring they receive a higher pay rate than the national minimum wage.

Cllr Brisley said: “Stirling Council is proud to pledge its support to UNISON’s ‘Apprenticeship Charter’.

“This agreement commits the Council to offering apprenticeships above national minimum wage pay and the opportunity to join the workforce under a training arrangement, which will lead to a qualification.

“This is a glorious opportunity for young people to get that all-important first step on the career ladder. This is a chance for them to shine and develop a career with the Council.

“The training, skills and experience they gain, working alongside talented senior colleagues within the Council, will hopefully set them up for life.”

Under the agreement, Craft Apprentices, aged 16, start on an hourly rate of £5.86 – compared to the national minimum wage of £3.70. Modern Apprentices (aged 18-20) start on a £7.14 hourly rate compared to £5.90.

On qualification, usually at the end of the second year, the pay is increased to a minimum of £8.80 per hour.

When a Craft Apprentice passes their trade test, their hourly rate increases to £11.13 per hour.

Apprenticeship training is provided by local accredited organisations, such as Forth Valley College, and the apprentices also have access to an in-house Council mentor.

Apprentices are guaranteed an interview for a vacant post within the Council at the end of their apprenticeship.

Two Council apprentices have told how they are revelling in the opportunities presented by getting the chance to earn while they learn.

Ross Mcdonald, 20, from Falkirk, is doing a two-year apprenticeship in Admin with the Schools, Learning and Education team, based at the Wolfcraig Building in Stirling.

He said: “The great thing about this is that it gives me an opportunity to earn money at the same time as getting qualified. That is the biggest thing for me. A lot of people are in the position that they simply cannot afford to go into full-time education. 

“Leaving school was a worrying time for me. I was applying for a lot of things at the time and was unsuccessful with quite a few. It’s that problem of people saying you need experience but how do you get experience if no-one’s prepared to give you a chance?

“It was a relief to be accepted into the apprenticeship. I feel that I’ve now been given a chance to build up a lot of skills, which means that if I apply for things in the future I will hopefully it easier to find a job.”

He added: “I think there should be more apprenticeships for young people because so many of my pals are in the same situation I was in.

“The hope is that at the end of this I will find a position within the council. I feel I’ve been given a chance to shine.”

Connie I’anson, 18, from Stirling is also doing a two-year apprenticeship in Admin with Schools, Learning and Education.

She said: “I was worried about the future, so it was great to be accepted and this has given me encouragement for the future. I’m learning a lot.

“It has been a struggle for some of my pals to find work and they find it frustrating, so I feel lucky having this chance to learn with the Council.”

Stirling Council’s UNISON branch secretary Lorraine Thomson and Unite union branch secretary Frankie McCallum were both present to witness Finance and Economy Convenor Cllr Margaret Brisley and the committee’s Vice Convenor Cllr Alison Laurie sign up to the ‘Apprenticeship Charter’.

Ms Thomson said: “I am proud that Stirling Council has signed up and made this important pledge to implementing the ‘Apprenticeships Charter’.

“Apprenticeships can be a wonderful route into employment – but we must not allow young workers to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.

“This charter commits employers to the highest standards and ensures the apprentices working for them have greater protection and the right to be paid above the national minimum wage.”

Mr McCallum said: “Unite is pleased that Stirling Council is embracing this investment in our young people.”

Pictured: (left-right): Ross Mcdonald (apprentice); Lorraine Thomson (UNISON branch secretary); Cllr Margaret Brisley; Cllr Alison Laurie; Frankie McCallum (Unite branch secretary); and Connie I’anson (apprentice)

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