Traineeships – post 16 Work Related Learning for those who need it

Another week, another new announcement from the Dfe. This week, it’s the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, who gets to use the Department’s Telegraph Education Section batphone and announce a new initiative. In fact, as the Telegraph Education Editor is called Graeme Paton, I wonder if the Manadrins at the Dfe call it the “Pat-phone.”

The Department is proposing a new Post 16 route called “Traineeships” for young people who are not ready for the world of work and learning that modern Apprenticeships demand.

The consultation document is here:

and I would encourage everyone who works in IAG for young people to respond or at least consider the important issues it raises.

After reading it part of me did despair. It was, after all, this government that did away with the statutory requirement for schools to provide Work Related Learning to students and yet here they are proposing a Post 16 route offering with employment skills and work placements as they clearly feel there is demand for such skills.

The questions to consider in the consultation are below. There’s some I don’t have the experience to answer so I’ve not offered anything on those. As ever would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Question 1: What are your views on the elements that are essential for an

effective programme to support young people to prepare for

Apprenticeships and other jobs?

I think your proposed model is a solid starting point. Time and time again business organisations such as the CBI have asked for the education establishment to make concrete strides to establish programs to enhance the soft skills which they so desire alongside actual real world work experience. I am also encouraged by the inclusion of careers guidance in the flexible support strand – equipping this cohort of young people with the skills to manage their own career research and decisions would be an extremely valuable investment.

Question 2: Should a guaranteed interview be part of the core content of

a Traineeship?

Yes – employer input would be clearly beneficial here but as long as the scheme provider was able to organise a suitable person who was new to the young people this would be close enough to reality for the activity to work. I would also encourage the use of videos on websites such as Monster interview to help young people prepare.

Question 3: What makes work placements high quality and effective?

The employer being able to spare time to assist the young person. Young people soon see through placements in which they have been hired as cheap labour to perform repetitive and basic tasks and quickly become demotivated. Regular visits to the placements from the Traineeship provider need to be part of the quality control. Of course the young people’s expectations need to managed so I would suggest that Traineeship providers are asked to be upfront and clear about the work placements they are able to source.

Question 4: Are you aware of other evidence from existing programmes

that demonstrates the effectiveness of these elements?

Question 5: How could Traineeships best complement what is already

available for young people, simplify our offer and avoid unnecessary


Many schools and FE Colleges provide excellent schemes of Work Related Learning and, despite funding cuts, many schools still offer work experience in KS4. The cohort of young people that Traineeships are seemingly to be aimed at needs to be clear to all stakeholders and local providers will need to communicate clearly with both schools, Colleges and Local Authority guidance services so the right young people are signposted to their provision.

Question 6: What are your views on the proposed Traineeships model?

Are the core components right? Is the balance between flexibility and

specification correct?

This is very similar to question 1. Although I would caution you to learn from the experience of past Apprenticeships funding rules which allowed explotation of the system. The positve changes in the regulations to secure a higher quality of offer for young people should be repeated with Traineeships.

Question 7: What are your views on the right age range for the

programme (Paragraph 21)?

The age range seems logical. I would point out though that if Traineeships are to last 6 months, then a young person completing the course soon after school might find themselves between provisions. Many FE courses don’t start until the new academic year in September and once young people have been out of formal learning or training for a period it can be much harder to re-engage them.

Question 8: What are your views on the right duration for the programme

(Paragraph 24)?

And yet, extending the elements of the scheme would be testing on both the patience of young people keen to start what they perceive as the ‘real’ Apprenticeship and the financial backing of their parents. Substanial support would need to be in place to ensure that drop out rates are sky high if the scheme is stretched longer than 6 months.

Question 9: What other elements of flexible content would you expect to

be added to the core locally?

UTC’s and Studio Schools have already shown that local employers can take a fundamental involvement in local education provision and they have built on local contacts that FE colleges and Sixth Forms had already established. Perhaps Traineeship providers can be encouraged to utilise such links and even base some of their work related elements at these facilities where available.

Question 10: What are your views on the most effective routes for

delivering Traineeships? Do the funding systems set out in Paragraph 27

provide sufficient flexibility to achieve this?

Question 11: How can we ensure that Traineeships are a high quality

route which delivers real progression for young people but minimises

bureaucracy for employers and providers (Paragraph 30)?

Question 12: The success of Traineeships will rely on employers offering

high quality work placements. How can we best support and encourage

employers to offer these? What will employers see as the benefits of being

involved in Traineeships?

There are already a number of financial incentives for employers to offer Apprenticeships. Perhaps these could be increased on a sliding scale when employers accept a young person onto one of their Apprenticeship schemes after the young person has successfully completed a Traineeship with them thus providing an incentive for employers to properly invest in the long term continuous development of young people. 

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