From September this year 16 to 24-year-olds are to be offered work experience, lessons in English and maths, tips on CV-writing and advice on how to prepare for an interview all under the Traineeships programme. Funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills it forms part of a response to criticism from business leaders about poor skills levels amongst young people wanting to enter the work place. Employers, education and training providers, and young people have been invited to comment on the government’s proposals, to help develop the programme.
In my opinion anything which encourages and equips young people to get into work, or on the path to a job, is a good thing. Traineeships should provide both work experience and the opportunity to learn within a structured programme. As every candidate is different it will be important for the training provider to apply intelligence and experience to customise the programme. The curriculum will need to fit the specific requirements of the young person while meeting the needs of the employer. Traineeships must therefore be flexible programmes.
In order for Traineeships to have value and attract young people out of unemployment they need to offer something worth having at the end of it. An apprenticeship would be the most logical step. Setting expectations that if the young person applies themselves they could earn themselves an apprenticeship with the potential of a permanent job must surely be a worthwhile prospect. By working closely with employers, training providers can make this this kind of work place entry model a reality. Bit by bit young people will be coming on to the pay roll appropriately equipped and skilled for the jobs they are needed for.
However if the young people, on benefits, cannot afford to take up the traineeship the whole concept is bound to fail before it starts. For this reason I feel very strongly that the Government needs to offer a Traineeship allowance. The reasoning in simple: a student, even one in full time education, has the opportunity of having a part time job while studying but a young person in full time work, even as a trainee, has a far more limited opportunity to do so. If they are better off not working there is no incentive to motivate themselves and at 16, six months seems a very long time indeed.
So, will traineeships fly or fail?
I think they will fly largely because they have to. We have to find a way of getting these young people in to work and to give them the opportunity to be the best that they can be. These Traineeships may well be the answer. Position the traineeships as high quality launch pads into potential careers; remove the obvious financial barriers and encourage the training provides and employers to be flexible and smart in the construction of the curriculum for each candidate. Yes, I think they will fly.