Lifeline hope for trainees after collapse of Leicester training organisation Stride
Young people let down by the collapse of training organisation Stride could be offered a lifeline.
Leicester training agency Skills for Enterprise was due to host a meeting today to coordinate support for those at risk of losing out on qualifications and employment.
City MPs have also pledged to do what they can to help.
Leicester organisation Stride collapsed last week, leaving more than 280 people without jobs or training courses.
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It emerged Revenue and Customs had launched a legal bid to retrieve £200,000 in unpaid taxes.
Chris Shaw, development director at Skills for Enterprise, which helps develop vocational skills and supports those starting up businesses, called on agencies to help those affected.
"Stride's situation is a sad one and the loss of opportunities for the young people on programmes is devastating, especially as many are close to gaining qualifications," he said.
"I think it only fair local agencies get together to try to help them."
Together with Leicester City Council and youth charity The Prince's Trust, Skills for Enterprise has written to agencies to come forward.
Among those affected by the collapse is Nico Booth, 19, from Saffron Lane, Leicester, who was on a painting and decorating apprenticeship.
He said: "I was working hard and looking forward to getting fully qualified," he said.
"I'm owed at least £160 wages for the work I've done and now it feels like everything's gone down the drain. I've nothing to show for it and I'm angry that we weren't given any notice.
"I know one apprentice had just five hours left to complete before he qualified. It's disgusting he won't get to finish it."
Liam O'Rourke, 18, finished a car maintenance course with Stride in January but is still waiting for his certificate.
He said: "I'm really worried I'll never get it. I've been applying for jobs but they all say the same thing – they need to see my qualifications."
Stride chief executive Dave Brazier said: "We're delighted the initiative has been taken to try to develop a co-ordinated approach to help our trainees and apprentices."
Thirty-three Stride staff have been made redundant. Workers at the organisation, in Humberstone Gate, were clearing their desks yesterday.
Aneeta Dhiman, who had worked there for nearly four years, said: "It's really sad and we're in a state of shock."
Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth said: "I'll do whatever I can to help and if that means lobbying Parliament, I will."
Leicester West MP Liz Kendall said: "I'm determined to pull out all the stops to try to save at least some of the work they do."
Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East, said he would be writing to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask what could be done.
Today's meeting takes place at The Prince's Trust office in Conduit Street at 2pm. For more information, call Chris Shaw on 0116 234 1470.