The government announced last month that it was relaxing the rules on which providers can run traineeships. Liz Williams reflects on why this could be a positive move, if it helps boost the number of starts, so long as it is managed with care by the Government.

From the start of the next academic year traineeships will be delivered by more providers, not just those rated as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by Ofsted.

Traineeships must be managed and regulated in the correct manner, and it’s vital the change does not oversaturate the market

With almost a million young people across the UK struggling to find work, this should be positive news.

If it means more young people can benefit from opportunities to help get them into work or training and it helps plug provision gaps in areas not currently well served, then it will be of real benefit.

There is, however, an inevitable ‘but’.

The change will only be good news if the quality of each traineeship course fulfils on its promise to the participant and those providers needing to improve continue to do so.

Traineeships must be managed and regulated in the correct manner, and it’s vital the change does not oversaturate the market in certain towns or cities, but genuinely leads to more, high quality provision in the areas that need it.

BT currently runs traineeships in 35 different locations across the country.

We see a huge variety of young people through our doors.

Some require support to build their workplace skills, whilst others simply need opportunity to experience the world of work.

Our programme aims to help them close these gaps and become more work-ready.

We measure, track, report, and review those on our programmes extensively; we always aim to improve the numbers of young people that complete the programme and we are very proud of the diversity and our success rates.

Our current traineeship design combines vocational training, employability skills, academic learning, work experience, a job interview where possible, and, importantly, 12 weeks of follow-up support.

More than 50 per cent of those finishing the programme are no longer NEET (not in education, employment, or training) after six months of completion, and 10 per cent are currently working in BT.

Although we’re really proud of the young people that do make the transition into a role at BT, that’s not our primary goal.

We’re aiming to give young people an understanding of a broad range of careers and help them on their first step down the path of their choice.

We’re constantly working to develop the BT programme, and are always open to working with others to learn from their best practice and share ours.

It is really important to us that we help as many young people as possible into employment.

There are a lot of working models now available that could be used or re-engineered by new providers. And BT is certainly prepared to share our experience and best practise.

We work closely with Jobcentre Plus to promote our programme to eligible young people, and it’s encouraging to see their recent initiative of working with schools to raise awareness of local employment opportunities including apprenticeships, as well as the importance of work experience and programmes such as traineeships.

However, there remains a need to do more to make the public, those at school, and those eligible, aware of traineeships and how they can change the course of someone’s working life for the better.

The new Youth Obligation for 18-21 year-olds will also bring a new dynamic when introduced in 2017.

The expectation that a young person will sign up for an apprenticeship or traineeship within six months of unemployment will increase demand.

This means it makes sense to make it easier for organisations to run them and enable more participants on programmes.

However, let’s not lose sight of quality as we strive for quantity and ensure that there continue to be appropriate controls to safeguard standards and ensure every traineeship delivers a high quality experience.