Traineeships dent youth unemployment yet many remain dubious

Traineeships, the government initiative which aims to combat youth unemployment by preparing young people for the world of work or apprenticeships, have been championed by some of the UKs biggest employers including Virgin Media and the BBC, but opinion among employers remains divided.

The programmes last up to five months, with businesses providing work experience placements while training organisations run English and maths lessons and teach skills considered important for the workplace. Trainees keep their Jobseeker’s Allowance while on the scheme.

There were 7,400 trainee starts three-quarters of the way through the academic year, and youth unemployment figures have been dented. Yet worryingly, ICM research recently found that only 43% of businesses think it is up to them to help develop the next generation of the workforce.

Many are concerned that businesses will exploit young people for unpaid work. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has created a ‘model traineeships charter’ to help unions negotiate for high-quality traineeships.

Iain Murray, senior policy officer at the TUC said: “We are supportive of traineeships but we think there need to be safeguards in place to ensure young people are not being exploited.”

Matthew Hancock MP says traineeships act as a stepping stone for young people: “It is all about building ladders of opportunity so people can climb from traineeship to apprenticeship, which ultimately can now lead to degree-level qualifications.”