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Apprentices turned away from training centre in Sittingbourne after Carillion collapse

By Lewis Dyson

There are fears for dozens of apprenticeships after trainees were turned away from a centre run by failing construction giant Carillion.

Apprentices at the firm’s site in Tribune Drive, on Sittingbourne’s Trinity Trading Estate were told to go home after arriving on Monday morning.

The centre teaches carpentry, bricklaying, painting and decorating.

Connor Edwards was turned away from the Carillion training centre in Sittingbourne
Connor Edwards was turned away from the Carillion training centre in Sittingbourne

The same morning the company, which employs 20,000 people in the UK, announced that crisis talks with creditors over the weekend to restructure its £1.5 billion debts had failed.

Scott Edwards went to drop off his son Connor, who was five months away from completing a painting and decorating course, but was sent away.

Scott said: “People were being turned away. People inside were just standing around. My son went in there and said: ‘Can you tell us what’s going on?’

“All he got was a hug from his tutor, who said ‘Good luck.’”

Connor, 19, from Gillingham, said he had been concerned about the course because sometimes tutors would not be there, so he would have to go home.

There were 12 other young people in his group and between 70 and 120 people taking courses at the centre at a given time, he said.

Carillion training centre in Sittingbourne
Carillion training centre in Sittingbourne

Back in 2014, as many as 150 trainees were signed up at the centre.

KentOnline's sister paper the Sittingbourne News Extra approached both the training centre and Carillion’s head office to find out what would happen to the apprenticeships but no answer was given.

Responding to the news, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey Gordon Henderson said he was sorry to hear about the apprentices being turned away and he would be contacting the company to find out exactly what is the situation.

He said: “I know that Carillion nationally are in deep financial trouble and can understand them scaling back their apprenticeship programme, however, I am concerned that they did so without any warning.

“We have a host of jobs in the pipeline locally and it is important that we provide our young people with the skills needed to take those jobs.

“Therefore, should the Carillion training centre close, then I will be working with other local training organisation, such a Mainstream and East Kent College, to see whether they can supply similar construction apprenticeship courses.”

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