Apprenticeships and traineeships for 16 to 19 year olds - Education Contents

8  Traineeships

131. As we set out in chapter 1, traineeships have been running since the 2013/14 academic year, with 10,500 starts by 16 to 19 year-olds since the programme began. The DfE describe traineeships as:

    An education and training programme with a core of work preparation training, English, maths, and work experience, designed to equip young people with the skills and experience they need to be able to gain an apprenticeship or sustainable job.[163]

Further learning is also considered a successful outcome after a traineeship.[164]

132. The evidence we received on traineeships highlighted the demand for programmes to assist young people who require further support to progress to a job, an apprenticeship, or to further study. Whether the current traineeships programme meets this need is less clear. New Economy Manchester questioned the benefit to young people provided by traineeships:

    In general people and agencies who work with young people at risk of being excluded from labour market opportunities support the traineeships programme. Yet there are some significant flaws. The benefits that individual trainees derive from the programme are unclear—there is no qualification at the end, the role is unpaid, and the pledge of an exit interview somewhat opaque.[165]

We heard more positive evidence from BT and OCR. Deborah Lee, BT's Chief Learning Officer, told us:

    We find it to be incredibly beneficial, for the employee, the trainee and the employer. 63% of our [trainees], having gone through our programme, which is six weeks and two days, have come out and gone into further education or a role. A number of things happen during those six weeks: they gain confidence; they get an insight into work life. In some cases, they have not had role models in their own households before, because they have come from families that have not been working. Just to understand what it feels like and to work with people who are quite excited about the workplace and work has been really beneficial. We have seen huge success stories with individuals gaining confidence and new skills, and coming out of it feeling quite proud.[166]

OCR said that 22 of the 23 people (96%) who enrolled on their scheme progressed to similar destinations.[167]

133. There is some confusion about what the traineeships programme is intended to achieve. Stephen Overell told us:

    One of the problems with traineeships is, arguably, they are not sufficiently targeted. We do not know exactly who they are for. There is a lot of speculation about precisely who traineeships are aimed at. They are clearly aimed at people with relatively low skills, given the eligibility criteria for them. Are they aimed at NEETs? Are they aimed at people who are jobseekers currently? These are all very valid questions.[168]

134. It is clear that good quality traineeships can have a positive impact, but given the lack of wider destination data, it is hard to judge the success of the scheme as a whole. We welcome the Government's commitment to providing better quality data.[169] Destination data may not always provide a totally accurate assessment of a provider's performance, due to external factors like local labour market conditions.[170] Nevertheless, more needs to be done to ensure that the impact of providers is measured.

135. In their submission, BT also raised concerns about how the traineeships programme is marketed by Job Centre Plus staff. They suggested that "until recently [Job Centre Plus] was not actively championing the initiative. This was due to a conflict with benefits rules and confusion on the scope of traineeships".[171] It is vital that a lack of knowledge of the traineeships programme does not prevent those who are most likely to benefit from a traineeship from being able to access the scheme.

Destination unknown

136. As part of this inquiry we heard worrying evidence about the numbers of young people whose destination is unknown. Lorna Fitzjohn described the situation in Birmingham:

    As at the end of 2013 there are 40,178 16 to 18 year olds known to the Birmingham local authority. Of these, the proportion whose activity is not known is 23.5 percent.[172]

Figures for other local authorities vary, from 0.3% in Thurrock to 39.3% in Worcestershire.[173] A recent report from the Public Accounts Committee put the national average at 7%.[174] In our report on careers advice, we argued that the Government should act to address the variation in the level of support provided by local authorities to those who are at risk of disengagement by actively promoting good practice.[175] We remain convinced that this is necessary.

Conclusions and recommendations

137. The impact of traineeships is currently unclear. Where employers and providers have engaged with the programme there are examples of positive outcomes for participants. There is a clear need for a pre-employment programme to help young people into employment or apprenticeships.

138. The Government should provide greater clarity about the purpose of traineeships and what the success criteria for the programme are.

139. The Government should ensure that Job Centre Plus staff are able to advise people properly about the impact of traineeships on benefit entitlement.

140. The Government should promote the activities of the best performing local authorities so that best practice in identifying and delivering services to young people at risk of disengagement is shared.

163   DfE () para xiv Back

164   DfE, Traineeship funding in England - Funding reform technical consultation: Government Response, November 2014, p.12 Back

165   New Economy Manchester (AAT0076) para 1.3 Back

166   Q217 Back

167   OCR (AAT0081) p.8 Back

168   Q220 Back

169   DfE, Traineeships funding in England - Funding reform technical consultation: Government Response, November 2014, p. 4 Back

170   Q268 [Darren Northcott] Back

171   BT (AAT0025) p.4 Back

172   Ofsted () Back

173   DfE, NEET data by Local Authority, May 2014 Back

174   Committee of Public Accounts, Thirty-first report of Session 2013-14, 16- 18-year-old participation in education and training, HC707, para 5 Back

175   Education Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2012-13, Careers Guidance for young people: the impact of the new duty on schools, HC 632-I, para 115 Back

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Prepared 9 March 2015