Sector welcomes alignment plans for traineeships

Government moves to align traineeship rules for 16 to 18 and 19 to 24-year-olds have been welcomed by the FE and skills sector.

Older trainees with level two qualifications will, from January, be able to enrol on the programme — like 16 to 18-year-olds.

The change follows the government’s eight-week consultation on traineeships, which had also considered a new system in which progression into apprenticeships, jobs or further learning was a funding incentive.

But the programme will continue to be funded using the “existing funding systems,” it said in the government’s consultation response published on Tuesday (November 18), meaning 16 to 18-year-olds remain funded per learner by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and 19 to 24-year-olds funded per enrolment by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

However, Mr Boles said sector responses to the traineeship consultation, which closed on August 14, meant the government favoured an “evolutionary approach”
to reform.

Teresa-Frith

Teresa Frith

Progression into further learning for 19 to 24-year-olds is also to count as an acceptable outcome for workplace funding. With the SFA funding 80 per cent of older traineeships based on learners simply getting to the end of the programme, and the remaining 20 per cent based on outcome, it means that providers could get 100 per cent of funding for the pre-employment scheme despite no job outcome for the learner.

The move means the same funding result as that of 16 to 18-year-old traineeship providers, paid by the EFA, who get 100 per cent of funding based on whether learners get to the end of the programme.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has previously made its feelings known to the government regarding learner workplace outcomes potentially affecting funding.

Joy Mercer, AoC director of education policy, responding to the government’s August consultation launch on FE outcome-based success measures, said: “The government must be careful not to confuse helpful data on which courses can lead to better employment prospects, with expecting colleges to have direct responsibility for job success.”

And, responding to the traineeship announcement, Teresa Frith (pictured), senior skills policy manager for the AoC, said: “Aligning funding and eligibility across the 16 to 24-year-old age range will make it easier for colleges to provide effective traineeships to help more young people into the workplace.

“We are pleased that the government has incorporated further learning in its response.”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Stewart Segal said: “Many of the additional flexibilities will enable more providers to respond to the needs of the young people on Traineeship programmes. We proposed more flexibility on eligibility especially older trainees with a level 2 and also support the simplification of the funding system for 19+ learners that will enable a more flexible approach to delivering vocational elements of the programme. We need to discuss the detail of the implementation of these changes but we hope this will encourage focus on traineeships as the main focus on getting young people work.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, said: “Our research has consistently shown that providers were being forced to turn significant numbers of young people — aged 19 to 24 — away from a traineeship because they had previously achieved a full level two qualification.”