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The Government is committed to the creation of 3 million apprenticeship places by 2020 , this could mean around 2-3% of the workforce might be in training as apprentices in the not too distant future,  which is a significant segment of the workforce.

In partnership with Trade Unions, it is crucial that organisations are providing real learning and development opportunities which are clear, practical and transparent. Therefore we call on organisations to work in partnership with Trade unions, be involved in planning and development and ensure that the voices of apprentices are heard.

Partnership working is about more than individuals meeting and exchanging views, it is about operating in a way which includes the views and interest of stakeholders in order to move the partnership towards its objectives.

Benefits organisations are as follows

  • Clear expectations and terms of engagement
  • Mutually supportive processes
  • Decisions that take into account the views of different stakeholders
  • Understanding other priorities and constraints
  • More effective implementation of policies
  • Providing a transparent and streamlined structure for trade union, employer and staff engagement

Trade union benefits include

  • ensure that the impact of and on staff is considered in any decision
  • increase membership levels
  • develop the skills of stewards to a higher level
  • become an equal stakeholder

Principles for partnership working

  • Trust and mutual respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities
  • Openness, honesty and transparency in communications
  • Senior level commitment
  • A positive and constructive approach
  • Commitment to working with and learning from each other
  • Early discussion of emerging issues and maintaining dialogue on policy and priorities
  • Commitment to ensuring high quality outcomes


  • Setting up regular meetings with the apprenticeship lead to discuss operational issues and progress towards targets
  • Inclusion of Apprentices on the Agenda of local collective bargaining committees
  • Involvement in discussions around development and approval of apprentice job descriptions
  • Being involved in discussions around appropriate vacancies for apprentices
  • TU access to apprentices i.e. information where the apprentices work
  • Involvement in induction processes
  • Agreements to disseminating TU information to apprentices

Source: partnership agreement: An agreement between the DoH , NHS employers  and NHS trade Unions

Plymouth in UNISON has passed a motion stating that all apprentice who sign up to UNISON are reimbursed their first years membership fee . This will mean that UNISON apprentices enjoy the benefits of being in one of the biggest trade unions in the country absolutely free in their first year. (This offer will be time limited but any end date will be published here in plenty of time)