Unions reach agreement on apprenticeships

The FDA, working together with other civil service unions as the National Trade Union Committee (NTUC), has reached an agreement with the Cabinet Office which establishes a framework of principles that will apply to all civil service employers on apprenticeships.

The key elements of this corporate approach are designed to ensure:

  • A fair and equal approach to the recruitment of apprentices to allow existing staff to enhance their skills as well as to train new recruits
  • That apprentices are paid appropriately for the level and profession of the apprenticeship they are undertaking
  • That civil servants who undertake an apprenticeship with their employer as part of their current role or at the same level will suffer no detriment to their pay
  • That apprentices receive quality training and support, including the ability to develop transferable skills to assist their career development
  • Compliance with the Civil Service Redundancy Principles and Protocols, which will include giving those at risk of redundancy due consideration for an apprenticeship, if that is considered to be a suitable post, and guaranteeing that apprentices will not fill posts that have been made redundant
  • That the FDA and other trade unions will be engaged by employers on all of the above

Addressing concerns
This agreement is a significant and welcome development and addresses the concerns outlined in a motion carried at the FDA's Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) in May 2016 about how employers may introduce apprenticeship schemes, such as:

  • Making existing staff redundant to make "headroom" for apprenticeships
  • Excluding existing staff from apprenticeship schemes
  • Requiring existing staff to accept inferior terms as a condition for acceptance onto an apprenticeship scheme

Following the 2016 ADC the FDA sought a dialogue with the Cabinet Office to raise and resolve these concerns. The union made clear that unless existing civil servants received appropriate reassurance on these matters the introduction of apprenticeship schemes may be viewed negatively, undermining the positive aspects of developing a coherent apprenticeship programme. This approach helped to instigate the dialogue that ultimately led to this framework agreement.

Union democracy in action
The Apprenticeship Agreement represents a good example of the union's democracy in action. A motion outlining members concerns and calling for action was taken to the ADC in 2016 for debate. The motion was carried by the ADC and passed to the FDA's Executive Committee to be actioned. The negotiated agreement that resulted from that action addresses the concerns outlined in the motion and ensures that the FDA has an influence on the way that apprenticeship schemes are developed by employers.

Taking place on 11 May 2017, the FDA's ADC provides a forum for developing the union's approaches to a wide range of matters that directly impact on the working conditions and issues affecting members.

Policies agreed by the ADC will determine the work of the union - its officers, branches and sections - over the next 12 months, so input from members will have a direct influence on the priorities of the FDA. If you would like more information about how you can get involved and influence the policies and work of your union please contact organiser@fda.org.uk.