Stewart Segal outlines the response of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers to the IPPR’s Remember the Young Ones: Improving Career Opportunities for Britain’s Young People report.
The report from IPPR sets out a number of recommendations to address the continuing issue of high levels of youth employment.
There is no easy solution to the issue and we agree that changes have to be made throughout the system including the advice and guidance given to young people at schools and colleges and the qualifications that are available to provide effective routes into employment.
The routes into work for young people need to be much clearer with successive governments creating initiative after initiative which have good intentions but which tend to complicate the options.
Traineeships should become the main offer for young people. The flexible design allows a personalised approach and the focus on basic skills such as English and maths and work experience is exactly what young people need.
The restrictions on eligibility for the programme and the restrictions on which providers can deliver the programme need to be reviewed to really improve the opportunities for young people.
Apprenticeships continue to provide an important, but not the only, route into sustainable employment and the IPPR report recognises the success of the programme. However, removing the level two programmes will reduce the opportunities for many young people.
We agree that every young person should have a progression route available to a level three job, but not everyone will have that opportunity from day one.
Similarly, apprenticeships should be available for those older people who need to improve their basic skills and the apprenticeship gives them this structured approach to work-based learning.
We need more not less investment in the apprenticeship programme and an all-age, all-level, all-sector approach continues to build the understanding and credibility of the programme.
Like IPPR we welcome the involvement of employers in reviewing the existing apprenticeship frameworks, but we are very concerned that the proposed changes will reduce and not increase the numbers of employers offering apprenticeship places to young people.
We do not necessarily agree with all of the IPPR recommendations, but we agree the need for an integrated approach to youth unemployment.
We have emphasised the need to build on the success of traineeships and apprenticeships, but we should ensure that providers involved in the delivery of the Work Programme integrate their offerings and the benefits system is flexible enough to ensure those opportunities can be taken.
Training providers, including colleges, are key to integrating these many initiatives and programmes to ensure young people have the opportunity to take these routes into work.