Wednesday 10 March 2021 / 10:30 PM Toby Perkins

Labour calls for urgent Government action as England’s largest training provider is ‘horrified’ at lack of Covid tests

Labour is today calling for urgent Government action after the largest provider of 16-19 education in England has said they are “horrified” at the lack of Covid tests for students returning to in-person training this week.

Government guidance required 16 – 19 year old students to return to in-person teaching from Monday 8 March alongside the return of schools and colleges, yet Independent Training Providers (ITPs) who deliver thousands of apprenticeships and traineeships, have been told they will not receive Covid testing kits until the end of March. JTL, the largest ITP in England and Wales has expressed alarm at the lack of support from Government.

Labour is calling on the Government to urgently provide ITPs with the support they need to provide Covid-safe learning environments. Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, Toby Perkins MP, said the Government’s actions again show their neglect of vocational education, following Ministers’ chaotic handling of BTEC exams in January left thousands of students worrying about achieving their qualifications.

Toby Perkins MP, Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, said:

“Yet again, it is clear that vocational education is an after-thought for this Government.

“It is simply not good enough that there will be no access to Covid testing at independent training providers until April at the earliest, when Ministers have had months during lockdown to get this right.

“I urge Ministers to act urgently to ensure independent training providers are supported to provide a Covid-safe environment for the young people and adults that they work with.”

Jon Graham, JTL’s Chief Executive, said:

“I was horrified to learn that apprentices will not have access to Covid testing in their place of learning until at least the end of the month.

“This sends completely the wrong messages to students, suggesting that they are not valued or appreciated, their welfare not as important and that choosing an apprenticeship is less worthwhile. All myths and preconceptions that the Government says it wants to eradicate.

“Playing fast and loose with the health and safety of our learners, their employers and communities they serve is very worrying indeed.”