8th June 2012 at 01:00

Apprentices, meet your very own Mr Motivator

FErret doesn't have a naughty step, but he's considering borrowing the one his TES colleagues use, if only to have somewhere to put David Scott, chief executive of GTG Training.

Mr Scott, whose company is owned by Scottish car dealership Arnold Clark, trotted out the usual nonsense about young people being work-shy layabouts when he claimed, ahead of a Scottish parliamentary committee appearance, that four-fifths of the 2,280 applicants for apprenticeships at his company were "unemployable".

Oh, really? Mr Scott must have been very unlucky. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) carries out the nation's most comprehensive survey of employers and consistently shows that businesses with experience of working with young people find they are well prepared. The only thing they sometimes lack is experience of the workplace. And you know what cures that? A job.

The saloon-bar talk trashing FE colleges as "state- sponsored day care", from the company's written submission, doesn't inspire much confidence. On the other hand, if these young people lacked motivation, perhaps they had an inkling that, even among those who met GTG's job criteria, fewer than one in three would be hired.

Alas, we're likely to hear the same whinges from business again as the CBI unveils its own (much smaller) employer skills survey on Monday, which will probably be much more widely reported than the UKCES findings.

And what, after all, was wrong with all these would-be apprentices? GTG Training submitted written evidence to the Holyrood committee saying that they had a poor attitude, unrealistic expectations and were unprepared for long working hours. GTG's expectations, on the other hand - including getting virtually free training and cheap, work-ready labour - are eminently reasonable.

That said, Mr Scott has a point. You can't deal with people who won't turn up for work when you need them. Doubtless the Scottish Parliament's finance committee will bear this line of thought in mind when they consider his company's evidence - especially since Mr Scott failed to attend their hearing, citing an "unforeseen business requirement". FErret doesn't want excuses, Mr Scott, he wants results.

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