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Traineeships should be given a chance, just like apprenticeships

After being launched three years ago, there are calls for a review into traineeships.

Safeera Sarjoo
24th June 2016
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After dodging questions about the number of people progressing on to apprenticeships after completing a traineeship, the government were made to disclose statistics following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Skills Funding Agency launched the request and the findings revealed that 9% of 5,200 19 – 24 year olds who took a traineeship went on to do an apprenticeship following the completion of the programme.

Statistics for under-19s fared a bit better with 31% of 7,400 completions progressing on to apprenticeships. These figures have prompted Richard Atkins, the former president for the Association of Colleges to suggest that ‘a review of traineeships is undertaken this year, so that more young people are able to fill the employer vacancies for apprentices.’

He went on to say that he believed that it was important for the UK to have a high quality pre-apprenticeship programme.

‘Many young people are not employment-ready when they leave school or complete a level one programme at college.

‘We need to equip these potential apprentices with the skills that employers want, especially the soft skills that will enable them to achieve selection by an appropriate employer. Traineeships should fill this gap.’

Though the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills didn’t respond directly to Atkins call for a review, a spokesperson did tell FE Week that traineeships were designed to give school leavers and young people the skills to get on the career ladder. With that in mind, we have to be conscious that this may not mean moving on to an apprenticeship for some.

There are a number of discussion points that will need to be touched on when this review is under way. From what we can see, there seems to be a bit of a power struggle with traineeships being seen as both a pre-apprenticeship programme and a programme that equips students with skills to make it in the working world. There’s no reason why traineeships can’t cater for both options, but it’s important that students are being taught universally relevant skills that are accepted no matter what they choose to do following their traineeship.

A pre-apprenticeship programme isn’t a bad thing at all, especially as the government have pledged three million apprenticeships by 2020. However we should be working to ensure that the quality of students taking up apprenticeships are just as good as the education these apprenticeships provide.

Employers and organisations running traineeship programmes need to take responsibility to ensure that they are providing adequate opportunities for students to take newly found skills in to other disciplines. This includes apprenticeships.

At the same time, employers offering apprenticeships and work opportunities should be open to accepting candidates that have completed a traineeship. There’s a lot of focus on traineeships delivering candidates who will then progress on to apprenticeships, however there’s a two way street to ensuring that traineeships actually work.

Yes, traineeships are generally unpaid, are for six months and provide basic skills, but we should be ensuring these skills are delivered to the highest of standards and to the point where employers are keen to shortlist candidates for further progression under their wings. Just like efforts to combat negative attitudes towards apprenticeships, there has to be a similar shift for traineeships too.

The big question people are eager to find out is whether scarce public funding is being wasted on traineeships and whether this is better off going elsewhere. Without properly working on a solution and really enhancing traineeships to their full potential it’s hard to tell if they can increase the number of apprenticeship starts. We’ll be keeping a keen eye to see how this pans out.


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