Olympic Stadium. Inset: Kevin McLoughlin

Published: July 29, 2011

ONE of Islington’s biggest employers warned the Prime Minister this week that Britain is fast becoming the “unskilled man of Europe” because young people are being “fobbed off” with temporary work instead of proper training.

Kevin McLoughlin, whose award-winning Essex Road company K&M McLoughlin Decorating Limited won a multi-million-pound contract to paint the Olympic Stadium, spoke out following a conference hosted by David Cameron.

He said: “Too many employers are offering work placements, which might provide a temporary fix but don’t teach a trade, instead of proper long-term apprenticeships. If this continues trained craftspeople will become a thing of the past. Already Britain is rapidly becoming the unskilled man of Europe.” Mr McLoughlin, who expressed his concerns in a letter to the PM, added: “The proof of their failure is reflected in the one million 30-year-olds and under who are currently unemployed.

“Unless companies can guarantee a genuine apprenticeship you will never reduce the level of youth unemployment. It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe apprenticeships can be really cost-effective and result in a highly trained and motivated workforce.”

Mr McLoughlin employs 140 people, of which 40 per cent came through his firm’s own apprenticeship scheme.

His letter to Mr Cameron received a reply from John Hayes MP, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning. He wrote: “Improving the quality of apprenticeships is a priority for this government.”

Born and brought up on the Priory Green estate in King’s Cross, Mr Mcloughlin, 53, left school with no qualifications.

He told the Tribune: “At least I was able to do an apprenticeship. Today there are very few schemes. Companies can’t afford to employ young trainees. Everything is sub contracted.”

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