17 September 2020

Traineeships ‘back in spotlight’ during business recovery as Skills Training UK helps deliver social mobility

Graham Clarke, Director of Education and Social Mobility at Skills Training UK, has said traineeships are now “back in the spotlight” following the government’s major new package of support to triple the number of trainees and help improve social mobility.

At the AELP Business Recovery Conference, held virtually and attended by over 250 delegates over two days (9 and 10 September), Graham Clarke delivered a Traineeships – Increasing Participation and Positive Outcomes workshop to delegates.

He explained how Skills Training UK has been one of the pioneers of traineeships and continues to be one of the largest providers – designing and delivering programmes for thousands of trainees since its inception in 2013.

Graham also reiterated Skills Training UK’s welcome support of the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to make £111 million available to triple the size of the traineeships, describing the widening of Level 3 eligibility as “fantastic news”.

“The latest government proposals have put traineeships back in the spotlight and will help boost the number of trainees whilst providing key support to young people who are facing challenges around the country,” Graham said. 

He talked about Skills Training UK’s proven track record of working with disadvantaged young people aged 16-24 who often have limited educational attainment or challenging personal backgrounds and who require significant levels of support.

In three of the last four years Skills Training UK has bucked the national trend of declining numbers of traineeships – achieving year on year growth, including over 1,000 traineeships delivered in 2019/20 – an approximate 25% annual rise despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of these, around 61% had a learning difficulty, disability or health concern, while 83% of those aged 16-18 did not have a GCSE at Grade C/4 when they started on the programme.

Despite these challenges, over the past year 59% of the learners aged 16-18 and 52% of those aged 19-24 progressed into employment, education or an apprenticeship following completion of their traineeship.

“We have had to adapt over time and be creative,” Graham said, citing a growing range of programmes which are either employer-led BT, Halfords, Butlins and Deli France are amongst the companies Skills Training UK has worked with to design bespoke programmes, while sector-led programmes include Retail, Warehousing, Business Administration, Industry and Hospitality.

Skills Training UK’s successful approach to employer engagement includes assigned National Account Managers with national employers in priority sectors, relationship development with local employers around its centres, and effective marketing of a joined up offer of employability and apprenticeship training, which encourages employers to offer work experience for traineeships.

Greater flexibility with referral partners, fast-track pathways into apprenticeships, and new programmes such as Mentor Me! for those with mental health issues have also contributed to the successful growth.

“We have invested in staff training including for Mental Health First Aid, behavioural management, and resilience training. We are successfully helping these hard-to-reach learners through the support of our referral agencies,” Graham added.

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