Improving progressions from traineeships

13 October 2017

Data published this week show a dramatic fall in publicly funded adult learning. Headlines across the sector are focussing on the 61% drop in apprenticeship starts following the introduction of the Levy, but underneath this are other, equally as concerning falls in participation rates. For example, despite the Government’s current push around the programme, starts, completions and progressions in traineeships have fallen by 14.6%, 4.0% and 2.2% respectively. While these data are provisional, they are deeply concerning when we consider the implications for participation in other programmes, particularly apprenticeships.

In order to achieve the Government’s target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, it is important that there is strong participation in feeder programmes which prepare young people and employers to engage in apprenticeships. Traineeships are ideal for this. If you were to design a pre-apprenticeship programme from scratch, it would have all the elements of a traineeship; they provide young people with the English and maths qualifications, employability training and work experience they need in order to progress onto an apprenticeship. The work placement also provides employers with an ‘extended interview’ for their apprenticeship vacancies, enabling them to see whether a trainee is a good fit for their business and giving trainees an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and potential. Boosting traineeship participation and progressions could therefore be key to improving both employer and individual demand for apprenticeship programmes.

We’ve done a lot of work with the Department for Education (and previously the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) to help them ensure that traineeships are fit for purpose and boost engagement amongst both young people and employers. Most recently, our work has focussed on improving progressions from traineeships into employment and specifically apprenticeships, and supporting providers to engage harder to reach young people and those who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) in their traineeship programmes.

The research we carried out last year showed how providers were building effective links between traineeships and apprenticeships and partnering with a diverse range of local agencies to recruit young people to their programmes. This meant that young people facing a wide range of challenges – including homelessness, experience of the care system, caring responsibilities and mental health problems – were able to access and progress through good quality training and employment opportunities. We developed a set of resources to demonstrate how other providers could learn from this practice to increase the diversity of their trainee cohorts and improve their traineeship progressions.

In order for the Government to meet its target on apprenticeship starts, it is vital that providers build on these successes and support as many young people as possible to access, achieve and progress from traineeships into good quality apprenticeship programmes. However, these latest data suggest that we are regressing from, rather than progressing towards, this aim.

If you’re interested in improving progressions from traineeships or engaging NEET or hard to reach young people in traineeship programmes, sign up for one of the free workshops that we’re running across England.