Traineeships definitely need to be reviewed – as they’re still not really taking off with learners and aren’t serving the key purpose of helping boost apprentice starts.

I know their wider aim is to help steer young people lacking basic skills away from the oblivion that is long-term unemployment.

But they were sold to the sector around the time of their launch three years ago as an important means of preparing students for apprenticeships — which simply isn’t reflected in the progression figures unearthed in our story this week.

It’s not good enough for the government to publish vague catch-all progression figures and I fear this reflects wider confusion at the top over what it hopes to achieve through them.

The freedom of information response figures suggest boosting apprenticeship starts is low down on the list of traineeship priorities.

But if this is the case, it calls into question whether scarce public funding could be better used elsewhere.

More focus is needed and the government could do a lot worse than looking again at the Association of Colleges’ manifesto call last year for a specific pre-apprenticeship programme.


Paul Offord, deputy editor