Traineeships were put firmly on the FE agenda by sector minister Matthew Hancock this month when he revealed plans for a new pre-apprenticeship scheme. Chris Jones takes up the issue and explains what he thinks needs to be considered when the final traineeship model is drawn up.

Further education Minister Matthew Hancock’s recent announcement about the consultation paper on traineeships has been broadly welcomed by the industry, including us at City & Guilds.

As Mr Hancock points out, this discussion presents an opportunity for the government to learn from the success of existing traineeships and to put into practice the advice of training providers and employers alike.

City & Guilds already has a large portfolio of qualifications that prepares young people for the world of work. These have demonstrated there is a clear demand for young people to have access to some form of consistent pre-training for employment or apprenticeships.

Obviously, we are waiting for more information and looking forward to working with government to develop traineeships, and so much is still to be decided.

However, from our experience, we believe traineeships should consider the following points.

Firstly, young people need practical maths and English and employability skills.

One of the most important components of the proposed traineeship model is its focus on English, maths and employability skills. We regularly hear from employers that the combination of functional literacy and numeracy and generic employability skills is too often lacking in the candidates they see.

Young people are faced with continually shifting challenges within the labour market. They are required to demonstrate ever more flexible skill-sets and competencies.

With this in mind, it’s essential that training in employability and basic literacy and numeracy keeps up with these changes. This would support young people to enter the workplace with both the confidence and the core attributes that employers need.

Secondly, employers need to be involved and engaged in traineeships. One of the strengths of the pre-apprenticeship offering we have been developing has been our engagement with employers and recognition of the critical role they play in making the programmes a success.

Their involvement helps to ensure that people develop the necessary skills before starting an apprenticeship.

We also know, through our recent Ways into Work report, that young people are eager to learn more about the world of work at a young age, 88 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds said that a visit to an employer would be extremely useful to them, and yet just 26 per cent had been given this opportunity.

The traineeship proposals also include work experience as a crucial part of the programme. We believe that nationally-recognised work experience is a fundamental transition for young people into the world of work, providing young people with tangible experience to include on their CVs. It is great to see it being given the attention it deserves.

And finally, traineeships must be accredited and transferrable. To help trainees progress through education and into employment, traineeships need to include a nationally-recognised qualification and standardised course elements — for example, job-related skills at levels one and two.

This would not only give the trainees a real sense of what it may be like to participate in an apprenticeship or other work-based programme, it would also ensure they develop the skills employers need and that these skills are transferable within the same sector. Ultimately, this would place trainees in a better position as they embark on their careers.

Alongside this, traineeships need to be flexible and adaptable in order to suit the needs of individual employers and trainees. However, as with all the programmes we deliver, we believe that the focus must also be on quality, structure and a tangible end result.

The traineeship scheme must be seen as a quality investment, and that’s why we will be working with the government to explore ways to develop an approval rating for colleges and training providers delivering them. The government’s commitment to establishing high quality traineeships and work placements is certainly a very encouraging step that could benefit young people and employers alike.

Chris Jones, chief executive and director
general at City & Guilds