Minister boosts traineeships with £20m – but only for 19 to 23s

An extra £20m funding will be available for over 19 traineeships, but there is no new cash for 16 to 18-year-olds despite a “pressing” need.

The funding, announced by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock on Thursday, is for the government’s flagship scheme which offers learners work experience alongside English, maths and employability training.
The cash has been welcomed by the sector, but some people have expressed concerns that it will be restricted to the programme for 19 to 23-year-olds.

We are continuing to push the agency to ensure funds are available for colleges where needed.”

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said the money was “additional funding, re-prioritised from existing budgets outside of the adult skills budget,” but was unable to comment more specifically on where the funding had come from.

“The additional funding has been made available by the Skills Funding Agency for provision to those aged 19 and over,” he added.

“This funding will be available to eligible providers of all types including colleges and private training organisations.”

At least one college has turned down the opportunity to provide traineeships for 16 to 18-year-olds since the scheme started in August, citing a lack of government funding as reported by FE Week last month.
ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman (pictured) said: “We are very disappointed to hear this funding is only available for post 19-year-olds, when the pressing need is for younger students to have access to this important route into apprenticeships and higher level training.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “It seems bizarre not to fund traineeships for all under-24s because all unemployed young people need help to get a job.
“This is another illustration of the government’s disjointed policy-making on the hoof.”

She added: “It may grab the headlines, but it won’t work in practice.”

Traineeships were originally announced in January and initially were only for 16 to 18-year-olds.

The extension of the scheme to 19 to 23-year-olds was announced in late June and assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges Julian Gravatt told FE Week this had caused “uncertainty” and “had an effect on numbers” on the programme.

He said: “The decision to allocate £20m to support employers and independent training providers will help to drive up numbers, but it is important the government does not overlook the way in which colleges can make a difference in helping young adults from all backgrounds move out of unemployment and into work.

“We are continuing to push the agency to ensure funds are available for colleges where needed.”

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