A government-funded training programme designed to prepare youngsters for the world of work will provide contractors with better candidates for apprenticeships, say industry training experts.
The Traineeships programme could be in place by September 2013 and has been set up to provide young people aged 16 to 24 with a tailor-made package of support designed to give them the confidence, skills and experience to compete in the labour market. It is likely to form a crucial bridge between school and an apprenticeship or other jobs, for those who lack the necessary skills.
Proposals for the scheme are out to industry consultation, but it is likely to include: focused work preparation training such as CV writing, interview preparation, job searching and inter-personal skills; work experience with real-life work placements designed to enhance their skills and confidence; and English and maths learning for those who have not achieved a GCSE grade C equivalent or better.
“Traineeships could have real value to construction employers who find it difficult to get the right candidates for apprenticeship roles because applicants are either not used to the work place, or don’t have the right skills or understanding of what’s expected of them by employers,” said Beatrice Orchard, coordinator of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) and head of communications at the Federation of Master Builders. “In a survey of FMB members, carried out last year, 26% said not being able to find the right candidate was one of the biggest barriers to hiring an apprentice.”
These findings were mirrored in last year’s CBI annual education and skills survey, which showed that almost two-thirds, 61%, of employers were unsatisfied with the self-management skills of school leavers, while around a third of employers said they were not satisfied with literacy skills and numeracy skills.
Traineeships for those aged 16-19 will be funded by the Department for Education, and youngsters aged 19 and older will be funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, all from existing budgets and at no cost to participants. The programme will also be open to young people not already in education, employment or training, as well as those already looking for a job.
The length of a Traineeship will reflect the specific needs of participants, but they are expected to last around six months.
“The work experience element of the Traineeship is critical and needs to be tailored to each specific sector – construction is vastly different to the world of retail, for example,” said Orchard. “Employers need to be confident that an apprentice isn’t suddenly going to walk off site a week after starting because they don’t have a sense of what the job is like.”
Who delivers the training is also a vital consideration, she added: “If it is going to be fully-funded and that funding is directed at colleges then they must be committed to working closely with local employers. Financial support for employers could also make a big difference. The industry pre-apprenticeship programme Pathway to Construction, for example, includes funding directed to employers to help them cover supervisory costs, safety equipment and other elements needed for work experience students.”