Tripling traineeships target missed by half, and 3 other findings from today’s Plan for Jobs progress report

The government has missed its target to triple the number of traineeships by more than half, a new report has revealed.

And the number of new apprenticeships that have been created following the launch of employer cash incentives fell 15,000 short of the government’s 100,000 target.

The Treasury revealed the figures in a progress report about chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs, which was launched in July 2020 to tackle unemployment post-Covid-19.

Here are the main findings:

Traineeships target missed by half

The Plan for Jobs provided £111 million for up to 36,700 additional traineeships in 2020/21, including paying employers £1,000 for providing work placements for trainees.

This would triple the number of starts on the pre-employment programme after 14,900 were achieved in 2019/20.

But today’s report shows that as of July 2021, “over 17,000 young people” started a traineeship in 2020/21 – 46 per cent of the target and just a 14 per cent increase on the year before.

The figures will come as no surprise to the sector, however, as the government delayed the rollout of a procurement to expand the 19 to 24 traineeship provider base, and has so far failed to launch a market entry exercise for 16 to 18 traineeships.

A further £126 million was announced at the Budget 2021 to continue the expansion of traineeships for the full 2021/22 academic year, with the aim of providing up to 43,000 placements.

Despite the figures in his own report, Sunak tweeted in celebration today claiming that “we’ve tripled the number of traineeships”.

85,000 apprenticeships hired with new incentives

The government is encouraging employers to hire new apprentices in England by giving them £3,000 for every one they recruit before 30 September 2021.

Funding for around 100,000 new starts was set aside in the Plan for Jobs.

So far, “more than 85,000 apprentices have been newly hired under our new incentive payments,” today’s report states.

It added that 75 per cent of these new recruits are below the age of 25.

The Treasury said it will keep this incentive scheme “under review” beyond 30 September 2021 amid calls for it to be extended.

63,000 start a kickstart job

The chancellor’s Plan for Jobs promised a new £2 billion “kickstart” fund to create “hundreds of thousands of high quality” six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funding covers 100 per cent of the relevant national minimum wage by age group for a minimum of 25 hours a week.

For a 24-year-old, grants typically reached £6,500.

Today’s report said that across Great Britain, as of 31 August 2021, “over 63,000 young people have started kickstart jobs and over 2,500 young people are now starting a kickstart job each week”.

65,000 enrol on a SWAP

Sunak’s Plan for Jobs included £17 million to “triple the number of sector-based work academy (SWAP) placements in 2020-21”.

The scheme, run by the Department for Work and Pensions, typically lasts for up to six weeks and includes pre-employment training, a work experience placement, and a “guaranteed” job interview.

Today’s report said that last year, “almost 65,000 job seekers enrolled on a SWAP to help them gain new skills and start a career in a new industry – an average of more than 1,200 per week”.

According to DWP statistics, 330,000 SWAP starts were recorded between August 2011 and November 2017, but the department then stopped publishing the data.

It is therefore hard to pin down precisely the recent popularity of SWAPs, and the DWP previously refused to say how many starts would be required this year to meet the chancellor’s target of “tripling” their number.

The Plan for Jobs progress report said the government is looking to create “80,000 more” SWAP opportunities this year, and “over 30,000 job seekers have been supported since April 2021”.

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