Extended and more flexible traineeships: A process evaluation
Traineeships have been integral to tackling youth unemployment since 2013. The programme, which combines training with a substantial sector-specific work placement, aims to support young people aged 16-24 (or aged 25 and with an Education and Health Care Plan) to move into work or an apprenticeship.
The number of traineeships increased in the academic year 2020/21. There were 17,400 traineeship starts recorded in 2020/21 – an increase of 43.5% from 2019/20 (UK Government, 2021). In response to the labour market shock caused by the pandemic, in July 2020 the government launched Plan for Jobs, which incorporated new flexibilities for traineeships. The flexibilities aimed to broaden the reach of the programme to more young people and employers, and to enable providers to adapt to the labour market challenges. The flexibilities consisted of an extended programme length, extending eligibility to include young people with prior qualifications at Level 3, an employer incentive, a lower minimum duration for work placements, and inclusion of digital skills in the curriculum.
This evaluation aims to understand how these changes were received and implemented, the successes, challenges and lessons learnt, and any effect on trainees’ short- and medium-term outcomes. Qualitative interviews with 30 training providers, and interviews with 30 employers, were undertaken between June and August 2021. 30 trainees were involved in the research. Fourteen trainees had recently completed their traineeship and took part in a one-off in-depth interview, and 16 current trainees took part in two 30-minute interviews and kept an online diary for a week.