Lead providers rated as requiring improvement and even inadequate by Ofsted will be able to deliver traineeships from next academic year, the government has announced.
Currently, only outstanding and good providers can deliver the programme, introduced in 2013, although they can subcontract to grade three (‘requires improvement’) and non-inspected providers.
But the government today said its grade one and two (outstanding and good, respectively) restriction was being removed in a move that has long been called for by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.
It is hoped the move will see an improvement on last academic year’s 19,400 starts. The lifting of the restriction was revealed in two documents, both published today — English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision and an attachment to Skills Minister Nick Boles’s letter to college governors this month, entitled Implementing the FE and skills reform programme BIS/DfE brief on progress for FE governors and leaders.
They have the same wording, which is: “In August 2013, we introduced traineeships for young people who wish to get an apprenticeship or other employment but lack the basic skills and experience that employers are looking for.
“They have made an excellent start — nearly 30,000 young people have participated in the programme in its first two years; around two-thirds of year-one trainees reached positive destinations following their traineeship, including apprenticeships; and 94% of employers consider traineeships an effective way of preparing young people for work.
“We want to see continued growth of traineeships in order to support as many young people as possible into apprenticeships and sustainable employment. The Skills and Education Funding Agencies are continuing to fund and prioritise traineeships and encourage more providers to deliver them; and as part of this, the agencies are making traineeships a priority when considering in-year growth bids from providers.
“When we introduced traineeships we required that providers are graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in order to ensure quality from the outset, but said we would keep this under review as the programme develops. Now that traineeships are fully
established and getting excellent results for young people, from 2016/17 we will place them on a par with other provision by removing this requirement. This will enable more providers to deliver traineeships and ultimately more young people to benefit from them.”
Traineeships are designed for 16 to 24-year-olds and for people with Learning Difficulty Assessments or Education, Health and Care Plans up to academic age 25.
An AELP spokesperson said: “We have been strong supporters of traineeships as a stepping stone for young people on to an apprenticeship and have lobbied for the eligibility of providers delivering the programme to be widened so that those providers can bring their employer customers on board.
“Today’s announcement that all providers can start delivering traineeships from August 2016 should make a major difference in expanding the number of places made available to young people who need credible work experience opportunities and to improve their English and maths before starting an apprenticeship or a job. We hope that the government might consider an even earlier implementation of this proposal.”
He added: “It’s very unlikely you’ll see inadequate providers offering traineeships because in the case of independent learning providers, a grade four [inadequate] inspection by default results in the Skills Funding Agency withdrawing the provider’s contract for everything.”