Charter for apprenticeships

Unionlearn have developed this charter. We encourage organisations to sign up and commit to high quality apprenticeship opportunities.

Unionlearn is committed to the vision of high quality apprenticeships as a skills development programme for the current and future workforce as we build a new, fair and prosperous economy. There are a number of principles which must be met in order to ensure that this vision is realised in a way that is beneficial to the apprentices, the employing businesses and the society as a whole.

Please Note: This charter does not in any way impact or replace nationally or locally negotiated union agreements or frameworks.

We agree that an apprenticeship should:

1. Be a job with a productive purpose

Apprentices should have parity of terms and conditions with all other employees. All quality apprenticeships will have progression opportunities to genuine employment. 

2. Be paid a fair rate

Apprentice rates should reflect the job done; if an apprentice does a full job they should be paid for it, or quickly progress incrementally to that point.

3.  Ensure high quality training and clear individual development

Apprenticeship programmes must identify a clear programme of training that is relevant to the job and recognisable in the sector.  Apprentices must be given sufficient paid time off the job to study in colleges, or in dedicated training centres at the workplace.. On the job training should be fundamental to the apprenticeship. There should be a clear system for supervision, support and mentoring, by appropriately trained work colleagues.

4. Involve the trade union at every level of the programme

Trade unions should have a constructive role in the development and delivery of the apprenticeship programme. Unions will negotiate around aspects of the apprenticeship, support apprentices and work with the employer to ensure the quality and success of the programmes.

5. Ensure Apprentices have regular access to, and support from, trade unions

The union rep should play an integral role in supporting, developing and advocating for apprentices. Union representatives, especially union learning reps, are ideally placed to act as mentors to apprentices.

6. Be accessible to, and achievable by all

A good apprenticeship programme will include strategies to ensure that Apprenticeships are accessible to the widest possible demographic and diverse spread of people.  Particular attention will be given to enabling people from disadvantaged groups to take up any opportunities offered and support given to complete them successfully, thereby achieving the full benefit of apprenticeship.

7. Be part of, and contribute to, a Healthy and Safe environment

Employers and unions should work together to ensure a safe environment. Particular attention should be given to the unique needs of apprentices and young workers. Apprentices should be given sufficient training on health and safety, including relevant legislation, and the programme should be regularly reviewed from a health and safety perspective.

8.  A commitment from the employer to complement the workforce, not supplement it.

  • Apprentices should not be recruited for job substitution, but to fill genuine skills shortages and plan for future skills gaps.
  • Apprentices should be employed by the employer, not as temporary or indirect labour.
  • Apprentices should be a key part of the workforce, and shouldn’t be seen as a way of reducing cost.