ASA targeting recruiters who place misleading job adverts for ‘apprenticeships’

 

A report by Reform claims that employers, particularly in retail, hospitality and fast food, are re-badging low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships in order to claim subsidies for training. As a consequence, the ASA has now also warned recruiters that it will take action if they place job adverts for low-skilled roles disguised as apprenticeships.

As reported on by the BBC and Recruiter, Reform recently published a study that also claims that 40% of government-approved apprenticeship standards do not meet the traditional definition.

According to Recruiter, an ASA spokesperson commented that the authority investigates complaints on a case-by-case basis. However, if they deem that an advertised role’s responsibilities are in conflict with government set apprenticeship standards, they will likely determine that the ad is misleading.  

 “Recruiters should be wary about misleadingly promoting misrepresented employment opportunities because the ASA can and will take action on any ad that would be. In addition to requiring any misleading ad to be amended or withdrawn, we are able to apply a range of sanctions to bring problem advertisers into line; for example, we are able to alert media to advise them to withhold services such as advertising space or request that search websites remove a marketer’s paid-for ads that link to material which breaks the rules.”

The centre right think tank’s study, entitled ‘The great training robbery: assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy’, says many firms have rebranded existing roles after being obligated to contribute to the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. All organisations with salary bills of more than £3 million per year have to pay 0.5% of their total wages into a HMRC digital account. Contributions can then be spent on apprenticeship training delivered by registered providers, with businesses claiming up to 90% of the cost of training.

While the government says quality is at the heart of its apprenticeship reforms, many commentators continue to raise concerns, saying the 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 target puts the focus firmly on quantity not quality.

The report by Reform reviews the available evidence to assess the effectiveness of the Levy’s first year. In addition to the number of new apprenticeships being down 40% on the previous year, the report claims that the Levy has diminished the quality of apprenticeships, with roles officially counted as an ‘apprenticeship’ including low-skill and very short training courses.

The BBC report identifies that a quick glance at the Government’s official apprenticeships website shows many high street firms advertising for apprentice roles in apparently unskilled roles. This includes an advertisement from a high street fast-food chain for an apprentice hospitality team member that reads as an opportunity for "a structured, learner and employer-focused development programme designed to create opportunities for lifelong knowledge, skills and behaviours". However, the role is described as cooking fries and other products and serving customers front of house, or cooking and assembling their products, while maintaining clean, sanitary working conditions, with training based around day-to-day duties, plus one-to-one interactions with a specialised trainer every four to six weeks.

 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

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