Trade union and business leaders have today issued a joint agreement on traineeships over pay and work experience quality as the programme marks its one-year anniversary.
The statement from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which was previewed by FE Week a fortnight ago, outlines their support for traineeships and includes four bullet points that learners should experience. They include clearly set goals and expectations, an induction and regular feedback, help to develop relevant, transferable skills, and opportunities which add to (rather than replace) existing staff.
It also said that while employers were not required to pay trainees “they may provide allowances or cover expenses (such as transport or meals) for trainees”. It added: “Where the young person is on benefits, training providers will be able to liaise with Jobcentre Plus to ensure that the provision of any financial support is compatible with the young person’s benefit entitlement.”
The programme has seen 7,400 starts since it launched in August up until April according to June’s Statistical First Release.
Paul Nowak (pictured right), TUC assistant general secretary, said: “Traineeships must include good training and work experience and it is vital that trainees are fairly treated. The principles set out in today’s statement should guide employers when designing high quality traineeships.”
Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, said: “As well as improving core skills like maths and English, traineeships can give young people the chance to develop a real understanding of what is expected in the workplace.
“I hope our joint-statement provides individual employers with the reassurance that well-designed traineeships are supported by both the business community and the trade unions.”
Traineeships, which combine work experience with maths, English and employability training, were designed to help 16 to 24-year-olds without experience or qualifications into work.
But they got off to a shaky start and in March, at which point there had been 3,300 starts, Shadow Junior Education Minister Rushanara Ali told FE Week that the take-up on traineeships was “deeply disappointing.”
However, in the same month the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) relaxed a rule that limited the amount of time Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants aged 19 and above could train every week and still get benefits from 16 to 30 hours.
Around six months earlier, Kwik Fit had come under fire from the National Union of Students when it emerged the car servicing firm was advertising for unpaid traineeships of up to 936 hours across five months.
The firm defended the offer, saying learners could finish the programme sooner and could progress to an apprenticeship, but then it pulled the scheme in December having been given a grade three (‘requires improvement’) inspection result from Ofsted with only grade one and two providers able to run traineeships.
But the new agreement between the TUC and CBI has prompted hope that more businesses could look at running traineeships.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “I am delighted the TUC and CBI have come together to support the scheme. It is essential for employers to make sure that trainees have a high quality experience and gain valuable skills that will benefit them for their whole careers. Household names such as BT, the BBC and Siemens have already got involved alongside many smaller employers.
“This agreement should encourage even more businesses to sign-up and provide opportunities for young people to gain the work experience and knowledge needed to begin their careers.”
The government has developed traineeships to give young people the skills and experience needed to succeed in the workplace.
The traineeship programme is supported by both the TUC and the CBI. Good quality traineeships have the potential to provide young people, who might otherwise struggle to enter the labour market, with a route into an apprenticeship or other sustainable employment, and can help businesses attract and develop enthusiastic young men and women. Traineeships are a collaboration between a young person, an employer and a training provider, working together to develop the skills and competencies needed to flourish in the workplace.
Traineeships should be high quality learning opportunities. Like other forms of work experience, they should:
– set clear goals and expectations;
– provide trainees with an induction and regular feedback;
– help trainees develop relevant, transferable skills; and
– create opportunities which add to (rather than replace) existing staff
Careers guidance delivered by the provider should ensure that Traineeships are tailored to the needs of individual trainees and the labour market.
Although employers are not required to pay trainees, they may provide allowances or cover expenses (such as transport or meals) for trainees. Where the young person is on benefits, training providers will be able to liaise with Jobcentre Plus to ensure that the provision of any financial support is compatible with the young person’s benefit entitlement.