Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has revealed hopes for 5,000 new traineeships through the employer ownership pilot (EOP) scheme.

He said National Grid, Everton Football Club, Somerset-based electrical installation firm Rogers Restorations, and Berkshire-based construction and engineering firm Costain aimed to create the traineeships.

The announcement was made during the Minister’s speech at a UK Commission for Employment and Skills event in London on Wednesday (April 30), and came around two months after official figures revealed there had been just 3,300 traineeship starts in the six months following the scheme’s launch in August last year.

He said: “Under this [EOP] scheme, employers combine their own money with government funding, to invest in the training they need. It’s simple, direct, and focused. Figures released today show that the
first projects will create over 5,000 traineeships.”

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) spokesperson said the EOP traineeships would be subject to the scheme’s usual delivery rules, so they could only be run by providers with an Ofsted grade one or two inspection result.

The government has said it has no target for traineeship numbers, but Access to Apprenticeships, which is seen as the scheme’s previous incarnation, saw 7,200 starts in its maiden year of 2011/12 and then 5,500 in 2012/13. It stopped at the end of the last calendar year with 1,500 starts.

And take-up for traineeships had already been dubbed “disappointing” by former Ofsted FE and skills director Matthew Coffey at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference in November.

Keith Smith, the Skills Funding Agency’s executive director for funding and programmes, also said at the AoC conference that — despite no official target having been set — “colleges have indicated they will deliver around 57 per cent of projected 19 to 23 traineeship starts for 2013/14”.

Mr Hancock also announced in his speech that £20m was being made available for skills training in the automotive sector.