Traineeships introduced for 16-24-year-olds
A new Traineeship programme has been introduced in England this summer.
The Traineeship programmes are designed to provide young, unemployed people who possess little work experience and low qualifications with skills and work experience in preparation for Apprenticeships and employment. A substantial number of UK employers report difficulties in filling vacancies and Apprenticeship places due to applicants possessing inadequate STEM and general employability skills as well as lacking work experience.
The programmes are targeted towards young people not in employment, education or training and school leavers wishing to start an Apprenticeship or gain employment. The young people most disengaged with education and training will be helped through different initiatives, such as the Youth Contract, the Work Programme and wider education and training programmes. Traineeships are considered more suitable for people with a reasonable chance of being ready for employment or an Apprenticeship following a Traineeship. It is recognised that this demographic group is diverse, so Traineeships are subsequently developed to be tailored to individual students’ needs in terms of content and duration.
The core content comprises literacy and numeracy, work preparation training and a work placement. The work preparation training in particular will be decided upon by the training providers and employers according to the individual learner’s needs, but may typically include CV writing, interview preparation, job search and inter-personal skills. Students who have achieved secondary level qualifications with GCSE grades A*-C passes (EQF level 3) in English language and mathematics will be exempted from the literacy and numeracy element. It is a Government target to raise young people’s English language and mathematics abilities to this level. The majority of Traineeships are likely to contain Functional Skills qualifications in English and mathematics at this level. Other suggested content to be covered during the programme includes careers guidance, job mentoring and relevant vocational education.
Prior to the start of the Traineeship, the employer providing the work placement opportunity should have already been identified, although some young people may benefit from concentrating on literacy, numeracy and work preparation training before their placement. The duration of the work placement is expected to be between six weeks and five months and be relevant to the trainee’s aspirations. It should also be organised with a low ratio of Trainees to experienced staff and involve feedback and reviews from the employer. The Traineeship programme as a whole should not take more than six months to complete, but will be considered completed at any point the young person moves into employment, an Apprenticeship contract or further education. The work placement host is expected to offer the Trainee a job interview at the end of the programme.
Welsh Traineeships were introduced in 2011 following a similar model. Statistics for the first nine months of the academic year 2011/12 show that 62% of leavers from Traineeships in Wales had a positive progression, such as on to employment or learning at a higher level. A survey from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) shows that 83% of Apprentices say an Apprenticeship boosted their career prospects and that 72% of employers say Apprenticeships improved their product or service quality. These numbers show the importance of delivering good quality Traineeships that are closely linked with employers. Only education and training providers that are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted (the education and training provider regulator) will be allowed to offer Traineeships.
Education and training providers that are already accredited to offer 16-19 programmes are eligible for funding from the Education Funding Agency and similarly providers accredited to deliver programmes to 19-24-year-olds may receive funding from the Skills Funding Agency. Employer-led programmes may receive funding through the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot.
Young people on Traineeships have access to programmes of financial support, such as the 16-19 Bursary Fund and Discretionary Learner Support arrangement for 19-24-year-olds, where they qualify. Employers are not required to pay people undertaking Traineeships during their work placement. The Traineeship programme is also designed to be sufficiently flexible so that it does not negatively affect young unemployed people claiming benefits.
Traineeships for 16-19-year-olds were announced by the government in May 2013 and extended to include 19-24-year-olds in July 2013. Funding for Traineeships was made available to providers from August 2013. A specific Traineeships logo has been created for eligible education and training providers and other organisations involved in promotion of the programme.
Several similar programmes offering preparatory training for employment, Apprenticeships and further education already exist; however, in line with the government’s plan to simplify the education system, these programmes may be subsumed (or cease altogether) as the new Traineeships become more established. The simplification process aims to ease understanding of qualifications, progression routes and opportunities for students and employers.