Apprentices tell of frustrations as youth training organisation Stride in Leicester closes
Apprentices who have been left with no job and no qualifications after the closure of youth training organisation Stride have told of their frustration and disappointment.
Alex Johnston, 25, from Netherhall, Leicester, had just six weeks to go before gaining the NVQ level 2 certificate he needed for work.
However, city centre-based Stride was forced to close on Friday after Revenue and Customs launched a legal bid to retrieve £200,000 in unpaid taxes.
Scores of young apprentices like Alex will now not be able to move into pre-arranged employment because they are unable to finish their courses.
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Alex, a former apprentice bricklayer, said: "I was so close – it's so frustrating.
"I've been on a work placement for a couple of months and I had a job lined up after, doing brick-laying. It would have been for at least a year, too.
"Now, I don't know what I'm going to do.
" I'm going to have to look for work, but I still need to finish my qualification."
Antony Corbin, 24, who lives in Braunstone, was one month away from finishing his painting and decorating apprenticeship.
He said: "I had a job with a mate who said he'd take me on full-time as a qualified painter and decorator, but now he says he can't do that. He still said he'd give me a job, but officially I'd only be a labourer, which is not what I want. I was one month away from qualifying, I can't explain how frustrated I feel."
Some 85 apprentices and 33 staff were made redundant on Friday.
The Government has agreed to cover the cost of the scheme's £16,000 worth of outstanding wages which it still owes to apprentices.
Antony said he is owed about £400 by Stride. "They gave us a form to fill out," he said. "But it will be about nine weeks until we get the money. What am I going to do until then?"
Many of the 280 young apprentices said they only found out about the collapse through friends and social network sites.
Apprentice Jake Tebbutt, 17, from Beaumont Leys, started his NVQ level 2 mechanics course in December.
"I found out Stride had closed through Facebook," he said.
"They didn't tell us anything, we had no idea it was going to close."
Richard Allen, from Loughborough, 59, called the Mercury to express his disappointment in how the closure had been handled.
His son, Thomas, 19, was halfway through a year-long brick-laying course and only found out about the collapse on Friday through a friend.
His father said: "He's disappointed, he was about to go to a building site for six months and start doing some practical work. Now, he's got to go back on the dole."
Stride was set up in 2000 by city homelessness charity Sharp, which is unaffected by the closure.
A sister business, property owner Leicester Social Economy Consortium, is also unaffected.
Neil Money, of liquidators CBA, of Leicester, said the £200,000 of unpaid taxes was mainly related to employees' income tax and VAT.
He said Revenue and Customs had launched a winding-up petition. Stride is due to go into liquidation next month.
David Brazier, a Stride director and chief executive of Sharp, told Saturday's Mercury: "I'm annoyed, given the strong desire of governments to promote the training of young people."