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The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has slammed plans to axe the traineeship programme, as announced in a ministerial statement today (Monday 12 December).
Government ministers have announced plans to close the national traineeship programme for new starts from 1 August 2023, citing low uptake. From then, funding is to be diverted to the 16-19 study programme and adult education.
AELP is calling on the government to immediately reverse this extremely short-sighted decision, arguing that the reasons for low uptake should be tackled, instead stripping away opportunity for some of our most disadvantaged learners. AELP believes better traineeships promotion amongst young people and the introduction of paid incentives would increase take up, of what is a valuable scheme for employers and learners.
As part of the plans, the government is also proposing to end contracts for independent training providers who have a 16-18 standalone traineeship contract, but not a wider 16-19 study programme contact. This would strip out significant specialist expertise and capacity for supporting young people and the government’s social mobility agenda. AELP has called on the Department for Education to allow impacted providers with Ofsted grade 2 or above to have access to 16-19 study programme funding.
Traineeships are intended for people aged 16-to-24 who aren’t in employment and have limited levels of work experience. The traineeship programme offers work experience alongside relevant on-the-job training as well as support to improve English, maths and digital skills. Traineeships are flexible and designed to allow training providers and employers to tailor them to meet the needs of local employers.
Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of AELP said:
“We must do everything we can to equip young people with the skills employers need. Axing traineeships would be incredibly short-sighted. The government’s own research on traineeships shows their effectiveness. Around three-quarters of all trainees have successful outcomes – either taking on work, starting an apprenticeship or further study – within 12 months. This compares to fewer than half of all non-trainees. Employer demand is high too.
However, unlike other programmes, such as Kickstart, there are no incentives for learners taking on a traineeship. It’s therefore understandable take up has been lower than expected, especially in the context of the cost-of-living crisis. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, government should instead focus on driving up numbers by promoting traineeships more effectively and introducing incentives.
To announce this decision, without any form of consultation- and right before Christmas- is incredibly poor form. Training providers are already having to making difficult decisions- this could be the final nail in the coffin for many. We have urged the government to consider alternative arrangements for existing 16-18 traineeship only providers, so they can continue supporting young people after July 2023.
Coupled with the planned level 2 and below reforms, this could be an unmitigated disaster for social mobility, by limiting access to skills training at entry level. The government have not published an equality impact assessment, but we do know 33% of traineeship participants come from ethnic minority backgrounds, and 23% have learning difficulties or disabilities. Furthermore, this will particularly impact disadvantaged under 19s and their ability to access provision. AELP will fight for this decision to be reversed. How can the government talk about a ‘ladder of opportunity’ and then pull the first rungs up?”.
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