Government plans for a new Traineeship programme to provide young people with a stepping stone to an Apprenticeship have been welcomed by EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications.
The Traineeships, which could be in place by September 2013, will focus on work preparation and experience, as well as ensuring those aged 16 to 24 taking the programme have English and maths GCSE grade C or equivalent or better.
Ann Watson, Managing Director at EAL, has said anything that gives young people a better chance when it comes to entering further education or a job is a positive step forward and will help ensure apprentices have the work place skills demanded by employers.
She explained: “English and maths are absolutely critical to industry employers, who have repeatedly said young people also lack opportunities to develop their inter-personal skills, gain interview practice or real-life work experience. While Apprenticeships go a long way to ensuring young people develop these skills, there have previously been calls for pre-Apprenticeship programmes to ensure learners have a basic level of work-readiness before entering the workplace.
“In particular, a government backed Traineeship may provide those not in education, employment or training (Neets) with the skills required to get onto the employment ladder, either through an Apprenticeship or other job, and this can only be a good thing.
“As government and industry strives to ensure that all Apprenticeships are seen as equivalent to higher education and meet the highest levels of rigour and assessment, it is increasingly important that prospective apprentices meet a minimum standard. Industry Apprenticeships are already providing young people with a stepping stone into highly skilled careers in engineering, manufacturing, building services and a variety of other sectors, and places are highly sought after. If prospective apprentices initially go through a pre-Apprenticeship style Traineeship, this will only help to push standards up further, providing businesses with the highly skilled, experienced and qualified workforce that will help them to thrive, giving the economy a much needed boost.”
Apprenticeships have proven popular in 2012 as learners were put off higher education by the new tuition fee arrangements, EAL has said.
Ann Watson, managing director of EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, has commented on recent figures from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), revealing huge demand for the vocational pathway.
There were 1.13m applications through the NAS online database last year, for around 106,000 vacancies (around 80% of the total). Meanwhile, UCAS announced in their End of Cycle report 2012 that overall demand for higher education has fallen, with applications dropping by 6.6 per cent to 653,600.
Ann said: “Demand for higher education weakened last year, when higher tuition fees were rolled out, while Apprenticeships went from strength to strength. While work still needs to be done, the public perception of Apprenticeships is slowly shifting, aligning the vocational pathway with higher education as a valuable pathway into a fulfilling, highly skilled career. Manufacturing Apprenticeships, in particular, proved extremely popular, with over 40,000 applications for 3,500 places advertised on the NAS database. This is the message EAL will be giving industry employers.
“The NAS figures reveal a huge gap in supply and demand – with applications far outweighing vacancies. More needs to be done to promote Apprenticeships to employers, support them to take on apprentices, and make them aware of the support that is already available, such as grants for SMEs that have never taken on an apprentice or have not recruited one in the previous 12 months.
“As an awarding organisation, EAL works with our sector employers to ensure Apprenticeships meet skills needs and are worthwhile for both learners and the businesses themselves. Apprenticeships are a highly effective recruitment tool, ensuring new employees have the exact skills and knowledge required for the job. We are working to promote the vocational pathway’s benefits to employers, learners, schools and parents. Working alongside these same groups, we must also ensure more Apprenticeship opportunities are available as their popularity increases.”