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Free bus travel for Gloucestershire's young apprentices

By citizenmike  |  Posted: February 23, 2014

Young apprentice Joe Byford, 18

Comments (4)

YOUNG apprentices look set to be offered free bus travel to help them get on the road to work.

Labour and Conservative county councillors look set to agree on a plan to spend £310,000 on getting apprentices to work in their first year at this Wednesday’s budget meeting.

It will mean that up to 3,050 apprentices in the county aged up to 24 would receive £200 over a 12 month period to pay for free bus travel.

Apprentice carpenter Joe Byford, 18, from Gloucester, thinks it is a good idea. He often has to travel great distances in his role with Gloucester firm Town & City Builders. For example, last week he made his way to Dene Magna School, in Mitcheldean, to work on a roofing project.

Joe said: “It can cost quite a lot to get around if you are an apprentice and many are not paid very much so having a scheme like this would be a real advantage for young people.

“I am really lucky that most of the time work colleagues pretty much pick me up and drop me from my doorstep but not everyone is that lucky and have to rely on buses.

“I think this would encourage more people to consider an apprenticeship. Doing one has been great for me. I left school at 16 and wanted to get into the trade so I went to college. Then I found Town & City Builders and they took me under their wing. I’m really enjoyed being given the chance.”

Joe himself is now a second year apprentice so he would not directly benefit from the scheme – but he hopes that it is introduced so that fellow apprentices can benefit.

The idea, proposed by Labour, is to be supported by the Conservatives.

Councillor Barry Kirby (L, Grange and Kingsway), who has led the idea, said: “Apprenticeship schemes are really great for giving the whole package, with a wage, the vocational training and the hands on practical experience, but getting to work comes at a cost. The wages of an apprentice do not really cut the mustard when it comes to facilitating getting to work.

“The travel card will encourage apprentices to stick with it. There’s a large number that start a scheme but because of their own hardships they just can’t continue. It will not only support apprentice in allowing them to continue to become qualified, but it will boost Gloucestershire’s economy.”

The first year of the scheme would cost £350,000 to administer, but the cost would drop to £310,000 thereafter.

Council bosses are still working out the finer details of how the travel card would work, to make sure that it is secure and not open to abuse.

One way to deal with that would be to issue apprentices with a £50 top up card, which could then be added to as they press ahead with their apprenticeship – a bit like a top up card for a mobile phone.

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  • TruthSeeker7  |  February 23 2014, 9:09PM

    Nothing against the apprentices but they do get paid a reasonable amount which can afford them their own transport if they are still living at home or in shared accommodation. The Government applauds free travel for them and yet those who are on jobseekers are told they have to get to job interviews quite some distance away and get sanctioned when they can't afford to get there and are unable to walk what is a 90 minute each way bus or car journey. Once again the government wants to look good supporting those in employment and continues to make it harder for those who want to work to be able to.

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  • Richardburton  |  February 23 2014, 8:39PM

    Getting to work costs money (it always has) but as a trainee they get more money than a person who is unemployed. Do the people on the work programme get their transport costs paid for? What about young people who have a job but have to pay bus fare to get to work and remembering that the young don' get minimum wage. Why can't the companies pay for the transport costs for their young employees? One minute we are cutting budgets the next we are giving money away to a select sector of young people.

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  • meymey  |  February 23 2014, 5:01PM

    would be nice if the county council enforced clear channel to fulfill there contract of keeping bus shelters in good repair and cleaned every two weeks , i even saw a shop keeper cleaning the windows on a shelter in barton street last week because his shop was behind it , he told me they never get cleaned.there is shelters allover,city centre and suburbs that are in a state of dis-repair ie poster doors swinging in the breeze and have been for months or even years in some case, posters blowing down the street and shelters not lit or partly lit, cheltenham isnt much better.

  • jackson99  |  February 23 2014, 3:31PM

    To help fund this project maybe Councillor Barry Kirby (L, Grange and Kingsway) could have stopped the spending £190,000 on a new reception area for the Council Offices.

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