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Traineeship programme will boost youth employability skills

David Grailey

Last month (Jan 2013), the government revealed plans to launch a new pre-apprenticeship scheme, helping young people to boost their skills, confidence and ultimately find sustained employment.

The Traineeship Programme could be launched as soon as September 2013 and will consist of work experience, English and Maths, along with job preparation such as CV-writing tips and advice on how to prepare for an interview.

The scheme, aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds, is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).   Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock is now consulting on the pre-apprenticeship programme to ensure stakeholders can contribute to the shape of Traineeships.

At NCFE, we welcome the proposals which fit perfectly with our own core aims as an awarding organisation – supporting young people to reach their potential and access the competitive labour market.

Looking at the Traineeship model itself, I believe that it needs to be underpinned by nationally recognised, relevant qualifications which give structure to the programme and motivate learners by recognising their skills and giving them a measure of their success.

NCFE already has a large range of qualifications which help learners make the leap from education to the workplace, through building the transferable skills and core attributes that businesses across all sectors are looking for.

For example, NCFE’s suite of Employability Skills qualifications ensure learners make the right impression at work from the outset – being able to present themselves correctly, work in a team, solve problems, follow instructions and manage their time.

In addition, NCFE has teamed up in partnership with recruitment giant Reed to develop a suite of qualifications in Job Search and Interview Skills which are focused around developing a work-ready attitude and mindset for learners. According to Reed’s recent ‘Put your Mindset to Work’ study with thousands of employers, 96% of those surveyed picked mindset over skillset as the key element in those they seek and retain. Therefore, we believe that these qualifications can give learners a significant advantage in the jobs market over their peers.

It’s fantastic to see work experience featuring so highly on the Traineeship agenda – it’s through genuine interaction with business that learners get a feel for the workplace. What’s more, by displaying this experience on their CVs, learners will become appealing to employers.

NCFE Occupational Studies will help learners prepare for the work experience element of the programme – the qualifications are tailored to give learners an introduction to specific careers, offering a taster of a variety of occupational areas. Learners can develop a ‘hands on’ approach to their learning in up to 14 vocational areas.

We also offer a qualification that supports the work placement itself. The Level 2 Award in Developing Skills for the Workplace aims to accredit the skills developed prior to, during and post placement in a work experience environment. The skills developed as part of this qualification will support learner progression into Apprenticeships or employment. The additional benefit is that it provides a framework for the work placement so that providers and employers see the quality and the value of the experience for the learner.

English and Maths is another key component of Traineeships. I absolutely agree that basic competency in these subjects is crucial when it comes to a young person building their future – not just for their career but also for their general progression through life. NCFE supports this focus on literacy and numeracy through our Functional Skills qualifications, which enable learners to gain practical skills in this area. We are also developing a suite of bite-size qualifications in Maths and English that offer progression to Functional Skills, Literacy and Numeracy and GCSE qualifications.

With almost one million young people out of work, it’s clear to see that urgent steps need to be taken to support this ‘lost generation’ and set them on the road to a brighter future. It’s my hope that Traineeships can be part of the solution and at NCFE, we’re looking forward to being involved every step of the way.

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the training provider

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