Providers have been kept waiting at least another week for the government to outline its plan for traineeships.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock had been advertised as attending an event in Manchester on Wednesday, April 24, at which he would unveil the scheme. But the launch was cancelled at the 11th hour.
Traineeships, due to start next academic year, were proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in June to help young people gain work-related skills and attitudes.
Mr Hancock was unable to attend the Manchester launch, which was pencilled in just as youth unemployment figures nudged the one million mark.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the minister’s attendance at the event had never been confirmed.
She said he had pulled out after he had been called to an “unrelated meeting at No 10”.
The event, organised by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, went ahead without the minister, but pressure is mounting within the FE sector for an announcement on traineeships.
Figures released this month by the Office for National Statistics showed that 979,000 16 to 24-year-olds were out of work in the three months from December to February, a 20,000 increase on the three months from September to November.
Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden said: “It is deeply concerning that the government still hasn’t launched the final proposals for its traineeships programme, not least given it is now 11 months since Nick Clegg first announced the policy.
“This month’s rise in youth unemployment further underlines the importance of the government getting this policy right.
“FE colleges and training providers need urgent clarity if they are expected to deliver this new provision come September.”
A spokesperson at the Department for Education said the launch would take place “shortly”.
“We received an excellent response to the discussion paper we published in January, with more than 450 responses from employers, providers and other organisations,” he said.
“We are continuing to work through the final details of the traineeships programme, drawing on all of these helpful responses. We will publish further information about the programme shortly.”