The deli article.

This post was written by Reuben on January 25, 2013
Posted Under: Uncategorized

Article removed pending further discussion. We stand by the content of our original article and consider the system of apprenticeships highly problematic.

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To contact Reuben email reuben@thethirdestate.net

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Reader Comments

Sharon

Please do not believe what you read on the web. I want to clarify that ALL our staff are paid above minimum wage. We are fully staffed at the moment but as we were contacted by an agency suggesting that we train people up as part of the government initiative to get young people back to work, we decided to look into this. We do not need, nor do we have the budget to take on an extra full-time employee – yes, an extra person always helps but not at the risk of being branded exploiters. Just so you know, we have been contacted by five agencies since the initiative was announced. Employers are being asked to get people skilled to get them back into the workplace – even if they don’t have any positions available. Taking on an apprentice makes no difference to us, in fact it costs us £3 an hour to take on someone we don’t need

#1 
Written By Sharon on January 25th, 2013 @ 3:49 pm
SBell

It would be best to ignore exploitative government initiatives as other companies have realised before you. Your reputation can only be harmed.

#2 
Written By SBell on January 25th, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

Methinks, Sharon, you doth protest too much, making it conveniently difficult to work out whether you’ve decided to proceed with this – or not?

#3 
Written By Ian Waites on January 25th, 2013 @ 5:05 pm
Geoffrey Bligh

In response to the story above, as the training provider, I would like to clarify and comment on the opportunity that was on offer. Firstly, this vacancy was posted on both the National Apprenticeship website as well as on gumtree. It is open to anyone who wishes to voluntarily apply for the position, in no way was it directed to any particular group or towards people that may be on benefit or in a position to loose a benefit. We had worked with the employer over a period of approximately 6 months to develop the opportunity. In addition to fully supported one-one training and a national qualification in Customer Service the potential candidate would have a chance to develop extensive knowledge in food heritage, organic farming and produce, locally sourced products as well as additional training such as barista training and food preparation and hygiene. This role was made available to someone that did not currently poses these skills and would allow them a full year to learn. The candidates were also made aware that there was the opportunity to earn wage increases, quarterly, over the year and that full travel costs would also be met by the employer. Ideally, and as agreed with the employer, this position would then turn into a full time, permanent opportunity once their training was completed. To many young people this route into a job is a viable option to college or other forms of education. It is disappointing that it was branded as an opportunity to exploit someone -as the main goal of our company is to help people into a permanent job while providing them with actual training and qualifications that can help them secure a rewarding future in their chosen field.

#4 
Written By Geoffrey Bligh on January 25th, 2013 @ 5:23 pm
Julia

A whole £3 an hour to take on someone you don’t need! Very generous if, as I assume, they’re going to be sitting around staring out of the window at your expense and not doing anything of any value to you. Actually, I can’t imagine what they could be doing that would be worth less than the minimum wage. You, on the other hand, might earn yourself an OBE for helping the government massage the unemployment figures.
Alternatively, you could tell the government where to stick their fake apprenticeships because you’d rather not exploit poor and vulnerable young people who have no other choices.

#5 
Written By Julia on January 25th, 2013 @ 5:36 pm
Andy

Ah Brackenburys Deli. Another place that I will be walking past then.

This is doing your business’ reputation no good at all. In fact it is a PR disaster. Better not to offer training opportunities than offer something at £3 per hour. Would you accept that amount? No I didn’t think so.

#6 
Written By Andy on January 25th, 2013 @ 5:44 pm
Paul

How does an apprenticeship differ from an employed position? Why do you need to do an apprenticeship to learn those skills, which most employees would presumably pick up on the job (on their full salary)? Is working in a deli really complicated enough to require a year’s training period anyway? Surely an apprenticeship does not usually involve the opportunity to earn wage increases (which, presumably, acknowledge that the apprentice is doing a good job worthy of higher remuneration)? Is this not just using a linguistic loophole to get around having to pay a fair wage?

It seems like “ALL [your] staff are paid above minimum wage”, apart from the ones that, legally speaking, aren’t actually “your staff” and so can be exploited. By the way you describe it, this is little different to doing an unpaid internship (doing valuable work) simply to be able to include some experience on your CV and look better for a future employer who might be more inclined to actually pay you a decent wage.

#7 
Written By Paul on January 25th, 2013 @ 5:47 pm
Reuben

Geoffrey Bligh, as the training provider here you make it all sound rather altruistic. The website of your business suggests otherwise. Explaining why businesses should hire apprentices your company says, and ” Lower your initial staffing cost when you take on an apprentice. Wages for 16-24 year olds on an apprentice programme start at £2.65. This allows you to invest in their training time – and can possibly allow you to increase your work force and productivity while keeping your wage bill low”. Of course this is all about giving young folk a chance, I and nothing at all to do with cheap labour.

#8 
Written By Reuben on January 26th, 2013 @ 3:06 am
Geoffrey Bligh

I would like to point out to those reading this ‘article’ that at no point was our company, who provide the training for these and many other jobs, contacted or asked to verify any of these claims. A simple phone call or email to us would have allowed us to explain the package on offer to those applying for this role. It is not simply £3 per hour. Yes, the wage starts at that point, but also includes paid travel to and from work for the full year of employment, there is also wage increases that can be earned, based on performance, throughout the apprenticeship (like many other jobs, performance=pay). Overall, the annual wage for this job, with benefits, is approximately £9,000.

In response to some of the comments made. Someone has said ‘how complicated can it be to just work at a deli’? Initially, that must be quite offensive to the 10′s of thousands of people that work in the hospitality and food industry. Many of those people must not think their job is that simple. A year of training? Yes, these people deal with your FOOD. Mistakes can make you sick, or worse, kill you. I would not want my food to be prepared by someone who doesn’t know the correct temperature to store things at, how to handle raw and cooked food, how to clean and prevent cross contamination in the kitchen or maintain the integrity of fresh food inventories. Once they have that, how about preparing all the different dishes, knowing the menu and the products, being able to tell you where the cheese in the sandwich came from or from which farm your ham was purchased. All this while providing excellent customer service to a loyal clientele of people who expect the best when they visit a business.

It is completely wrong to write such a scathing and one sided report about a business and slander a good name while accusing them of exploiting workers without giving them a chance to explain why they were offering this opportunity. They are not looking to recruit 100′s of low paid workers or replace a full time, trained employee with an apprentice – they were looking to offer an OPPORTUNITY to someone to enter a business, learn and progress and move into a permanent full time job.

It is unacceptable to simply call my desire to facilitate this altruistic without first having spoken to me. Many of the employers that we work with were once apprentices themselves – and want to offer an opportunity to someone to join and learn their business while being supported.

In response to the quotes from our website. Yes ‘Lower your initial staffing costs when you hire an apprentice’ yes ‘wages start for apprentices at £2.65 per hour’ yes ‘this allows you to invest in their training time and allow you to increase your work force and productivity while keeping your wage bill low’ We have nothing to hide here. That is all completely accurate. We work with many small business that want to expand and have the opportunity to do so – but hiring a new, experienced, full time person before the expansion starts can prove impossible. Therefore brining in an untrained person, allowing them to grow with your business and learn the job along the way is a perfectly viable option.

In terms of the ‘exploited people’ that work for these starting wages, everyone has a different approach to how they would like to enter the workforce. Some like to attend university for 4 years, leave with £50K of debt and then start an entry level job. I know many Hospitality and Catering graduates that are doing this right now. For someone else, starting work at £3 per hour and learning along the way might just be the opportunity they were looking for. It is wrong for someone sitting behind a computer to make the judgement for that person – without first speaking to them.

2 of our apprentices were featured in a story in the Evening Standard on Thursday January 17th – page 52. They talk passionately about how the apprentice opportunity changed their lives. How they are now happy to be in work, learning and getting paid. These people were not forced to take these jobs, nor where they forced (or compensated)to speak to the media. That particular employer is trying to grow his business and a trained and reliable workforce is key to this. Hiring apprentices has allowed the business to grow and created 7 jobs.

Yes, those jobs only start at £3 per hour. But that is only for their first year of training – and increases through the year. These, and many apprentices will not just do one year of training and then return to being unemployed. These are all permanent jobs. At or above minimum wage once they complete the first year of training. Many employer choose to continue their apprentices training in the years beyond as they see the value it adds. For apprentices aged 19-24 the government only part funds their training and employers must contribute to the rest. They are investing more into this that the journalist above has pointed out.

Finally, it is very disappointing to both our company and this business that this has been such a one sided discussion. Brackenburys adds value and commerce to its community, it employs local people, supports local farmers and producers and self employed bakers and chefs.

Thinking that this opportunity may now, not be available to a young, unskilled person who has a passion for the same business is quite striking. One day, they may have had their own deli, employing local people, supporting local farmers and producers – and when they were ready to expand – looked back and remembered that they were offered a chance to start off in the business – and give another apprentice a chance.

I do hope that Reuben, who wrote the article thought all those things through. It will be difficult to tell those that really wanted this job that someone else somewhere decided that making sensational claims on a website and trying to damage a businesses reputation was more important than them having the chance to move into full time, paid employment. Great job.

#9 
Written By Geoffrey Bligh on January 26th, 2013 @ 7:59 am
Paul

“Someone has said ‘how complicated can it be to just work at a deli’? Initially, that must be quite offensive to the 10′s of thousands of people that work in the hospitality and food industry…”

That’s not what I meant to imply, I was saying that a position such as this does not merit a year’s work at less than minimum wage just because it comes under the name of ‘training’. What you have written above is all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re employing people on a wage below that which has been legally decided to be necessary to sustain a livelihood. Which, if it weren’t for the convenient loophole of calling it an ‘apprenticeship’ rather than a ‘job’, would be illegal. Yes, some young people might take this ‘opportunity’ to enter full employment, but they will presumably be making a financial loss while doing so (particularly at London prices), while helping the deli to operate with lower wage expenses and so make more profit. That IS exploitation, no matter how you dress it up with buzzwords like ‘opportunity’. And I’m not convinced that all of these apprenticeships result in full-time positions: what’s stopping the business from deciding, come the time when they must increase the wage to the legal minimum, that they simply can’t afford to keep the employee on and they must be ‘let go’?

You admit yourself that “performance=pay”. The minimum wage has been decided as the amount that any performance as an employee merits. It makes no difference if the wage increases or includes travel expenses – in fact, if the wage can be increased following improved performance, that suggests that the apprentice is performing useful tasks for the business and so, automatically, should qualify for a minimum wage. You can’t say that an employee only receives minimum wage when they reach a certain level of performance: minimum wage is the price of a minimum performance, and anything better should deserve more.

I can appreciate that you’re trying to make us look like the ‘bad guys’ here for raising a legitimate concern about your ‘apprentices” livelihoods, but being an employer doesn’t, in itself, mean that you are providing an enviable opportunity. The minimum wage exists for a reason.

#10 
Written By Paul on January 26th, 2013 @ 1:12 pm
Geoffrey Bligh

Regardless of how you want to spin the comments; for someone living at home, with no employment, £3 per hour may not be a financial loss for them, but rather a gain. You are assuming that everyone is in the same position. Rather than spend £5,000-£9,000 per year on university fees, working for 12 months for £9,000 rather than 12 might be considered to be a savings for someone. You need to ask each individual what best suits them. We make the pay readily available on our advertisements so those wishing to apply can make an informed decision. Apprenticeships may not be for everyone, but for some it is what they want to do. In no way did this business deserve to have their name sullied while complying with legal minimum wages (and paying more than that in fact). I am pleased to see the article has been removed.

#11 
Written By Geoffrey Bligh on January 26th, 2013 @ 2:36 pm
Andy

I have completed both basic and intermediate food handling courses. The first is done in a day and the second is done in two days. This gives me the necessary knowledge to know how to not kill people with “FOOD”.

Sadly you seem to be like most industries at the lower end of the “food chain” that seem to think that others should be paying for the cost of the training needs of your staff. You need to start changing your relationship with your employees by investing in them to show that they are valued, this includes funding their training whilst paying them a wage that they can live on. Let them pay their own travel expenses as most employees have to.

Could you live on £3 per hour?

#12 
Written By Andy on January 26th, 2013 @ 5:26 pm
Julia

The reply from Bligh, reminds me of my father’s descriptions of being articled to a solicitor (the equivalent of an apprenticeship) during the Depression in 1930s. It was fine for young people from rich backgrounds, but those who, like him, came from poor families, suffered bitterly, having to choose between one basic necessity and another in order to get a training. That’s why the law was packed with children of the rich. And now, this disgraceful government is trying to take us back to a time when so much potential and so many futures were thrown away. They are wrecking the opportunities of a new generation of young people (not including their children, of course) by scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance, tripling university tuition fees, and forcing young people into unpaid work or so-called training ‘opportunities’ for pay so low that it wouldn’t feed a dog.
By the way, education and training are not individual commodities, like a car or a television, that you might buy on credit. They are a valuable and necessary resource for a whole society, which should bear the cost and not place it on the shoulders of young people starting out on their adult lives.

#13 
Written By Julia on January 26th, 2013 @ 5:33 pm
Andy

It is in the nature of parasites to exploit others for their own ends.

Could someone see their way to throwing me a crust fom the table?

#14 
Written By Andy on January 26th, 2013 @ 5:40 pm
Roger

I work in hospitality. A year and a half ago, I had no experience. I’m now fully skilled and good at my job. Every single thing I learnt, I did as a full employee earning above minimum wage, as it is in so many other industries. If you ask, I guarantee you that every other member of this deli’s team learnt the same way. If a business cannot afford to pay its staff the minimum wage as it trains them, it isn’t a viable business.

#15 
Written By Roger on January 29th, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

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