Traineeships should be delivered by ‘high quality and proven’ providers

The Ofsted annual report criticised Traineeships for a lack of success with helping young people progress to apprenticeships or employment. But Angela Middleton explains why she still thinks they have a lot to offer, so long as they are delivered by the right providers.

Ofsted chief inspector Michael Wilshaw has recently identified a problem with traineeships in the annual report on schools published last week, saying that “in too many of the FE and skills providers visited… traineeships appeared to have little success in fulfilling their primary role of being a stepping-stone to an apprenticeship or other sustained employment”.

I believe the issue is perhaps not with traineeships as an entity, but rather the way in which some providers deliver them.

It goes without saying that in order to deliver high quality effective traineeships, the government must use high quality and proven providers.

It’s recently been revealed that grade three and four providers will from 2016/17 be able to deliver traineeships, something which I don’t believe is the right way forward.

More funding should be given to specialist providers who meet the requirements — there are a lot of grade one and two providers who would like to receive the funding.

I would like to see them given priority in order to ensure the high quality of training needed.

I appreciate that sometimes the delivery is not as specialised as it needs to be, which is why traineeships in their current form are best implemented by a specialist training provider.

In my organisation, we pride ourselves on the quality of the training we provide and the results we enjoy, so while I understand Mr Wilshaw’s general position, I can’t whole-heartedly agree with it.

For me, the key to our success with traineeships is our determination to place as many young people as we can into meaningful employment and we work very hard to achieve this.

Traineeships are vital because there is often a lack of meaningful careers advice in schools

Since Feb 2011 we have operated a 12-week programme (originally unfunded) where we teach 16 to 18 year olds, who have never had a job, the 12 steps of recruitment.

In this way, they learn what employers are seeking and why and how to adapt their behaviour and to bring out their innate skills.

It has gradually transitioned into what is now termed a ‘traineeship’. Within this, we include maths, English, ICT, niche employer targeting, and personal branding and commercialisation, but the core objective of this period remains unchanged.

I would agree that the primary aim of traineeships should be to prepare young people for apprenticeships or sustained employment.

A traineeship is simply another version of a pre-apprenticeship, a form of training that’s been implemented for a number of years, and one which I feel is an essential component in helping to get a young person to a stage where they’re work ready and can excel at interview stage.

It’s also crucial in getting them to the point where they are in the right mind-set to keep the job once they have secured it and succeed in their chosen career.

An apprenticeship is not right for everyone, and there shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule that means every young person has to go on to an apprenticeship.

However, when traineeships are delivered properly, they do have an excellent conversion rate — to go back to my earlier point, we just need to ensure that they are delivered by high quality providers.

In terms of placing young people into jobs, my company has a 96.9 per cent conversion rate.

I see traineeships, and by extension apprenticeships, as the start of a longer journey.

In fact, we have just implemented a programme which takes young people from school leaver to graduate in five years.

We call it ‘Zero to Degree’ and I see the future of apprenticeships as being very much along these lines.

Another point I’d like to make is that traineeships are vital because there is often a lack of meaningful careers advice in schools.

Also, the narrow range of very ‘traditional’ careers young people express an interest in when we first see them is alarming. More in-depth and focused careers advice is needed, which is why a traineeship with a specialist, experienced provider is a necessity for many.

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  1. Wholeheartedly agree, even more so for apprenticeships which I know something about. The extremes of quality provision are poles apart regardless of the name on the gate or the grade they deserved or got away with. But still the funding, praise, criticism is doled out as though all learning providers are the same. Too easy to make decisions based on a headline, but seemingly too hard to ask a learner, trainee, apprentice, employee what their experience of a provider is. They can spot second rate from a mile away but once signed up have little choice but to continue until they don’t have to, it’s their life being wasted.
    Then big surprise the ‘programme’ appears to have little success. Well Mr Wilshaw, someone needs to get out more. The good learning providers are exceptionally good don’t confuse them with those that are anything but.

  2. So what happens if you have the staff and resources but have not been inspected by Ofsted? Just looked at MiddletonMurray to see their history on the Ofsted reports site and no report?
    There are a lot of good small providers who could deliver Traineeships well but because of their size they have to subcontract to larger providers.
    The inadequate provider reference is (hopefully) a bit of a red herring or the SFA really are losing their grip on quality.