By Daniel Hunter

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock today (Thursday) set out plans for a new programme to equip young people with the skills they need to compete for Apprenticeships and other jobs.

The new traineeships programme, which could be in place by September 2013, would provide young people aged 16 to 24 with a tailor-made package of support that will give them the confidence, skills and experience to compete in the labour market with more experienced adults. A Traineeship could be seen as a crucial stepping stone to an Apprenticeship — a job with training to industry standards — or other jobs, for those young people who currently lack the necessary skills.

Employers, education and training providers, and young people have been invited to comment on the Government’s proposals to help develop the new programme. The discussion paper sets out the Government’s vision for Traineeships, which would include:

· Focused work preparation training — e.g. CV writing, interview preparation, job searching, inter-personal skills.

· High-quality work experience — giving young people real-life work placement to enhance their skills and confidence.

· English and maths — for young people who have not achieved a GCSE grade C or equivalent or better.

The initiative is part of the Government’s wider aim to ensure the future workforce possesses the skills that employers want in their apprentices and employees.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“We want to support everyone in our country to reach their personal best. To do that, we are introducing Traineeships to help young people with the skills they need to get a job, and hold down a job.

“That’s vital for our economy to compete in the global race. And it’s a question of fairness.

“Traineeships will give young people the helping hand and experience they need to compete for Apprenticeships and good jobs.”

Professor Alison Wolf, who conducted a review of vocational education for the Government, said:

"Long term changes in the labour market have been very hard on young people. It is increasingly difficult for them to gain the work experience and workplace skills that help them move into permanent employment. In my Review I argued that the Government needed to address this issue as a matter of urgency, and I am delighted to see that they are indeed doing so."

Last year’s CBI annual education and skills survey showed that almost two-thirds — 61 per cent — of employers were unsatisfied with the self-management skills of school leavers. Employers were also not satisfied with their literacy and numeracy skills — 35 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
The aim of the programme will be to help those young people who are motivated by work, but whose lack of experience often means they fall short of employer expectations.

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:

“We have been arguing for some time for a pre-Apprenticeship ‘offer’ to young people, a mixture of training and work experience that makes them attractive to employers and competitive for Apprenticeships or for other jobs with training. We therefore welcome this consultation and the thinking that underlies the questions that it poses.

“Seeking the views of employers, colleges and young people themselves on what is likely to work best is essential if we are to come up with the most effective programme.”

Graham Hoyle OBE, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said:

“The development of Traineeships represents a hugely significant step forward in ensuring young people currently without a job or training opportunity are better equipped to find either an Apprenticeship or other type of worthwhile employment.

“The Government is also wise to consult widely and openly with providers and others to find the design most likely to be successful. They suggest that flexibility and personalisation are likely to be the keys to success. They are correct.

“Success in this venture promises to secure real progress in ensuring that our most vulnerable young people are helped in their quest for sustainable and rewarding employment.”

The Government wants the programme to be open to a wide range of young people including those not in education, employment or training (NEET), those interested in a course with an education or training provider or those looking for a job.

The length of a Traineeship would reflect the specific needs of participants, but they are expected to last around six months.

There are similar schemes in place around the country, such as the Work Ready programme by St Helens Chamber and Work Pairings by PM Training. The Government wants to build on these local programmes to create a universally recognised route for work-based learning for young people who aspire to an Apprenticeship or other jobs, alongside the range of support already available for this group.

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