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Posted by: Ian Piper

Fast food giants, coffee shops and retailers are relabelling low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships. A study by think tank Reform, says many firms have rebranded existing roles after being obliged to contribute cash to on-the-job training. The study says 40% of the apprenticeship standards approved do not meet traditional definition of such skilled on-the-job training courses. As part of the changes, it introduced an apprenticeship levy on organisations paying more than £3m in salaries a year. They must then pay 0.5% of their wages total into a "digital account" held by HMRC. Tom Richmond, senior research fellow at Reform compared British apprenticeship standards to the hospitality sector in Germany which, he said, cover a much broader range of skills and competencies. The report says: "Groups of employers came together to write the new 'apprenticeship standards’. Some used this opportunity to generate high-quality standards, sadly others appear to be simply rebadging low-quality, low-skill and often low-wage roles as 'apprenticeships' instead." In 2013, the government said apprenticeships had to be skilled roles, requiring substantial and sustained training of at least 12 months. Coffee giant Starbucks is advertising for barista apprentices, but from online chat rooms it appears that people usually get trained for a couple of weeks before beginning work. Starbucks is yet to respond to the BBC's request for a comment.

Wales are going above and beyond in the Commonwealth Games… A silver for rhythmic gymnast Laura Halford in the hoop gave Wales a 26th medal on the Gold Coast to beat their previous Commonwealth Games overseas record set in Auckland in 1990. In the men's Wrestling 65kg freestyle Wrestler Kane Charig added another silver after winning two contests to reach the final. Boxer Mickey McDonagh won Wales 27th medal with bronze in the 60kg section after a semi-final split points defeat to Harry Garside.Sarah Wixey added a bronze medal in the women's Trap Shooting.Wales now have 7 golds, 10 silvers and 12 bronzes at the 2018 Games. The total has surpassed the 25-medal haul in New Zealand in 1990. As Well as the above medals, Wales have three more medals guaranteed in boxing. The team remain in sight of the highest haul of 36 medals in one Games, achieved in Glasgow in 2014.Team Wales Chef de Mission Nicola Phillips. "Our athletes, across all 15 sports, have been outstanding and they deserve the praise that is coming their way. "They have done it brilliantly, and that is now reflected on the medal table. "We hope they inspire others to get involved in sport."

Having as little as one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life, according to a major new study. An analysis of 600,000 drinkers found that drinking five to 10 alcoholic drinks a week was likely to shorten a person's life by up to six months, which increases with higher alcohol consumption, with those who have 18 drinks or more losing up to five years of life. They found the upper safe limit of drinking before there was an increased risk of death was around 12.5 units a week - the equivalent of about five pints of beer or five 175ml glasses of above-average strength wine. They also said that drinking at all levels increased the risk of cardiovascular illnesses. The large analysis challenges the idea that drinking in moderation can be healthy for us, experts said. Previous studies have suggested that drinking red wine can be good for our hearts, although some scientists have suggested these benefits may be overhyped. In 2016 it was recommended that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week, the equivalent of about six drinks a week. Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study said: "The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions." "This study makes clear that there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true,"


Source -BBC News

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