Ten ways to improve Apprenticeships and Traineeships for 16-19 year-olds

5 November 2014

Evidence which supports NIACE’s proposals on Apprenticeships and Traineeships was presented to The House of Commons Education Select Committee this morning. The session heard from researchers, officials and experts on the policy background and operational management of Apprenticeships and Traineeships for 16-19 year olds in England.

The Committee’s inquiry is looking into how well the current Apprenticeships and Traineeships systems are meeting the needs of learners and employers.  MPs and witnesses discussed the image and definition of Apprenticeships, pre-16 work experience opportunities and increasing employer participation in delivering apprenticeships and traineeships.

Tom Stannard, Deputy Chief Executive of NIACE, said,

“What is clear from the Education Select Committee’s evidence session this morning is that much more can and must be done to increase the volume of opportunities for young people to do a Traineeship or an Apprenticeship.

“It was encouraging to hear evidence that supports our belief that it’s not just about the quantity of young people taking part. It’s critical we also ensure they are offered a better quality experience. Furthermore, it’s good to see the Committee agreeing with our proposals that diversity in Apprenticeships and the visibility of Traineeships must be taken seriously.” 

In September 2014 NIACE submitted written evidence for the committee to consider including these ten recommendations:


1. Adopt an Apprentice Charter which sets out how every Apprenticeship provides an expansive education and foundation for a successful career.

2. Provide extra support and incentives for under-represented groups to encourage wider participation in Apprenticeships.

3. Government must carefully plan and manage changes apprenticeship funding to ensure employers remain engaged with the programme.

4. As every apprenticeship should lead to a job,  adopt a job outcome incentive payment to encourage more employers to adopt strategic and expansive Apprenticeship programmes.

5. Apprenticeships should be based on the stage an individual is at in their career – rather than age.

On Traineeships:

6. Traineeships need a much stronger profile so that more employers, young people and parents are aware of the programme, understand and value what traineeships are and how they can enable young people to make a sustained transition to employment or an apprenticeship.

7. Everyone that’s involved in developing, recruiting and supporting traineeships must have a consistent understanding of the programme as too many providers report that participation numbers are restricted by lack of awareness and understanding of the programme by key referral agencies.

8. Scope the potential of an intensive traineeships for young people who are motivated to work but need more intensive support to get them in to a job or an apprenticeship.

9. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can play an important role in brokering and promoting traineeships locally based on their unique understanding of local labour markets, skills gaps and current and emerging opportunities in sectors such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

10.  Finally, young people who already hold a full level 2 qualification should not be turned away from a traineeship, as evidence shows that many of these young people would benefit from the work-focussed support that the programme offers. Government should align the eligibility criteria for young people aged 16-18 and 19-24 to prior achievement below level 3.