On 10 September 2013, 25 young people from two areas of high unemployment in Kent, who completed a pilot traineeship scheme with OCR (our UK exam board) over the summer, celebrated their success at a special event at the House of Commons with the help of the Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP.
So can ‘traineeship programmes’ – which offer a combination of training and work experience – ensure that young people develop the necessary skills to enter the rapidly changing world of work?
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg first revealed the Government's intentions to launch a pre-apprenticeship scheme in June 2012, in response to concerns over the amount of people in the UK aged between 16 and 24 who are not in employment, education or training.
A survey by the Confederation for British Industry had discovered that more than 61 per cent of employers thought that young people leaving education lacked the "work-related skills and attitudes which they needed to sustain employment". And a report by Professor Alison Wolf of King's College London concluded that: "[Young people] move in and out of education and short-term employment churning between the two in an attempt to find either a course which offers a real chance for progress or a permanent job, and finding neither."
The Skills Minister announced a framework for a traineeship programme in May 2013, following feedback from the education sector. Shortly afterwards, OCR teamed up with the Kent Association of Training Organisations (KATO) to run a three month pilot scheme. Designed to mirror the Government’s full traineeship programme and help young unemployed people bridge the gap into work or onto an apprenticeship, the pilot enabled OCR to roll out its own ‘Cambridge Traineeships’, tried and tested by the experience.
Indeed, the results of OCR’s pilot traineeship are promising. Of the 25 trainees, 12 have already been offered employment or places on apprenticeships, and a further 12 are going on to FE courses. The short video below gives a perspective from the learners and the providers.
The young people, who ranged in age from 18 to 24, followed a programme delivered by SET Training based near Dartford and Profile Training in Broadstairs, which mixed work experience, basic English and maths skills, as well as focusing on general readiness to work through employability skills courses and interview practice. Work placements were organised with local businesses, including insurance companies and estate agencies, with a focus on customer service and administration.
There has been some speculation that the age range of the Government’s traineeship programme could be widened in time for the 2014-15 academic year if the scheme proves to be successful in its initial format.