UK Youth criticises Aspect’s apprenticeship bootcamp has defended its decision to get young unemployed people to take part in a bootcamp competition to win an apprenticeship, after it was accused of being “hideously exploitative” by charities and organisations.

Apprentices took part in various physical activities, literacy and numeracy drills and a bike race with a Boris Johnson lookalike.

Joanne Birch-Phaure, senior communications officer for young person’s charity UK Youth, said: “Asking young people to go the extra mile in pursuit of a role is one thing if it demonstrates the skills they will need to do the job in question. Using them for publicity or amusement in this kind of mercenary way is hideously exploitative. The company involved should drop this stunt or answer just how this helps them select a suitable candidate whilst being sensitive to those who are unsuccessful.”

Managing director Will Davies defended the bootcamps, saying: “Political correctness needs to be left at the door in relation to young unemployed. The plight facing young people is so immense in terms of job prospects that you need to have a sense of humour. Aspect have been diligently organising bootcamps for two years and filling apprenticeship roles. Organisations that are levelling criticism at us for showing some initiative and a little sense of humour to lighten the atmosphere need to think again.”