Youth NEET Contract Scheme – Raising employability through employers » InspireEducation

Youth NEET Contract Scheme – Raising employability through employers

So a further £126 million is being offered to businesses, charities and social enterprises to help re-engage 55,000 16-17 years olds who are NEET?

This figure is in addition to the £1b Youth Contract which, in turn, adds to the £3-5b Work Programme.

So what exactly is the “Ticking Time Bomb” as Nick Clegg so deftly put it? There are now an approximate 1.04million young people (age 16-24) who are not in employment, education or training; a figure which is growing and does not seem to be showing any signs of improvement. The Youth Contract Scheme is an initiative that hopes to help some of the harder to reach young people.

Referring to research on youth unemployment the government is concerned that “if young people lose the ambition, hope and optimism about working then they are likely to suffer long-term scarring effects”

The intention of this initiative is to encourage businesses, charities and social enterprises to take on 16-17 year olds who are disengaged and support them by developing their employability skills. This is designed to give them a chance to gain some valuable work experience in order to enhance their CV and work experiences.

If done well this initiative could make a difference to the lives and experiences of these young people. However, it has to be said that this is very reactive and does not actually get to the heart of the issue or provide any longer term strategic solutions..

Through the education bill the government removed the statutory provision for Careers Education, so that schools could choose what experiences their students have of the working world. Schools have the responsibility to deliver a bespoke curriculum based on the needs of their learners but have been given no financial support to do this at a time of austerity and budget cuts.

There is clear evidence that good work experience and good careers education can help young people to be motivated and prepared for the world of work. So, on one hand we remove the entitlement, only to be seen to give it back ten-fold. I am a little confused and think that I may not be the only one.

If we invested money and statutory responsibility in relevant and motivational careers education (by relevant I mean in line with economy and business voice), in ensuring every child developed literacy and numeracy skills, in helping schools to embrace their local employers and deliver a curriculum in partnership with the world of work then maybe the youth contract would have more substance and be much more focused on the needs that most people seem to be agreed upon.

Government rhetoric keeps telling us that they need to ‘boost the economy’. Surely having a skilled, motivated, literate workforce would make a significant contribution?

If you would like to listen to a BBC Northampton radio interview with Inspire2Exceed director, Laura-Jane Rawlings, talking about the recent Youth Contract initiative, click the play button below:

InspireEducation can support businesses looking to tender for the NEET Youth Contract – Click HERE for more information

BBC News – Ministers drop work experience scheme sanctions

Ministers drop work experience scheme sanctions

29 February 2012 Last updated at 17:49


Nick Clegg MP: Work scheme critics have “messed-up priorities”

Ministers have dropped the threat of sanctions for unemployed youngsters on a controversial work experience scheme.

It follows a meeting with dozens of firms with concerns, after criticism it amounted to “unpaid forced labour”.

Some employers had pulled out of the scheme – in which 16- to 24-year-olds on jobseeker’s allowance do up to eight weeks’ unpaid work but keep benefits.

It is voluntary but those who dropped out after the first week risked having their benefits docked for a fortnight.

The government says that only 220 cases out of 34,200 people taking part between January and the end of November 2011 were sanctioned, and mostly for misconduct, not for dropping out.

But following Wednesday’s meeting with firms and charities, it said that rule would be dropped – although sanctions would still apply in cases of gross misconduct.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said it would help companies but insisted that critics were “completely misguided”.

Critics say the scheme amounted to “unpaid forced labour” for many young unemployed people and the Right to Work campaign group had led protests – including a sit-in at a Tesco store.


The work experience programme is one of a range of placement schemes run under the government’s “Get Britain Working” policy.

It allows unemployed youngsters to accept short-term work experience placements, which were unpaid but could include travel or childcare expenses, and keep their benefits.

But those who dropped out of the scheme after a probationary period of one week could have had their benefits docked for two weeks.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron said 200 small- and medium-sized companies had expressed an interest in joining the scheme in recent days.

He urged firms to “stand up against the Trotskyites” protesting against it.

And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said protesters were “completely out of touch” and the scheme was “brilliant”, adding: “People volunteer to do it and we have a queue of kids desperate to do it.”

Chief executive of Barnardo’s Anne Marie Carrie, who was at the meeting on Wednesday, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “We discussed frankly what has gone wrong in public perception about this scheme.

“Work experience is a vital lifeline for some of the most disadvantaged young people in this country. They’ve been failed by the education system, they’ve been failed by the care system and they cannot easily find employment in this tough climate.”

‘Free labour’

She said she was “delighted” at the news that the sanctions would be dropped as she was worried that they could threaten the future of the scheme.


SWP’s Michael Bradley on Tesco and McDonald’s work experience protests

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said he welcomed the government’s “climbdown” on the issue – and making clear that work experience was voluntary would help safeguard against it being used for “free labour for employers”.

And John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said short work experience placements were a “critical” part of finding a job for thousands of youngsters: “The biggest sanction anyone could face is losing the opportunity to gain experience in the world of work, and this announcement will ensure businesses continue to have the confidence to offer these opportunities.”

But Mark Dunk, an activist from the Right to Work campaign, said it was “one battle won but the wider fight goes on”.

“Forced unpaid work still continues in the form of the mandatory work activity and community activity programme… There should not be any young person anywhere forced to work for no pay. Everyone on any training scheme should receive minimum wage or above.”

Burger King, bookshop Waterstones and electrical retailer Maplin have left the scheme, while Sainsbury’s says individual stores which took part are no longer doing so, as it is not company policy.

Tesco says it will start to pay those on work experience and guarantee a job when placements go well, and baker Greggs says it does not want people to lose benefits if they fail to complete their placements.

Fashion chain Matalan has suspended its involvement pending a review.

For Labour, shadow employment minister Stephen Timms said he backed the theory behind the scheme – but said there was a “complete muddle about whether this is a voluntary scheme or not because job centres are telling people it’s compulsory”.

In a separate development, Boots has stopped some of its stores participating in a different scheme – the government’s flagship work programme – aimed at helping the long-term unemployed find jobs. Some stores had been approached locally to provide placements but would no longer be doing so, it said.

Boots said under the terms of the scheme people could lose benefits if they refused to join or did not fully comply, which was in breach of its company policy never to participate in schemes which compel people to work.

Hiring graduates with best degrees from top universities ‘could be discrimination against average students’ | Mail Online

Don’t bother getting a good degree: Now PC brigade says bosses shouldn’t just hire best students as it ‘discriminates against average graduates’

By Emma Reynolds

Last updated at 1:00 PM on 28th February 2012

Companies hiring graduates with top degrees could be discriminating against students with average grades, according to a Government-commissioned review.

Jobs that require applicants to have a minimum qualification of a 2:1 degree may prevent firms meeting diversity targets, the report said.

Many sought-after positions – particularly in the corporate sector – require a certain standard of academic achievement and even attendance at a certain set of universities.

Future uncertainty: Firms may not meet diversity targets if they require applicants to have a minimum of a 2:1 degree (file picture)

Future uncertainty: Firms may not meet diversity targets if they require applicants to have a minimum of a 2:1 degree (file picture)

But the review for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the system was ‘flawed’.

Professor Tim Wilson, who carried out the review, said: ‘A filter that limits
recruitment to a particular set of universities, a “2-1 standard” and a defined UCAS entry threshold to the corporate sector are not uncommon requirements.

‘In the context of reducing the applications to manageable proportions this is understandable, but it has flaws.’

He said companies who filter on academic achievement need to carry out regular reviews of their screening processes, based on the types of graduates they have hired.

‘An algorithm that includes a profiling filter may reduce the selection task to manageable proportions and hence an acceptable cost, but it also has the potential to exclude graduates with skills profiles that are appropriate to company needs.

‘Graduate recruiters using filtering mechanisms should undertake a systematic and frequent review of screening algorithms in the light of the qualities of the graduates that the company has recruited and the diversity objectives of the company.’

You're hired: Vince Cable said the Government will now 'carefully consider' the recommendations
You're hired: Vince Cable said the Government will now 'carefully consider' the recommendations from Professor Tim Wilson, pictured

You’re hired: Business secretary Vince Cable, left, said the Government will now ‘carefully consider’ the recommendations by Professor Tim Wilson, right

He added that the recruitment cycle is normally undertaken before graduation, so the degree classification is projected, not actual.

This may minimise the cost risk, he added, but not necessarily manage the risk of diversity imbalance.

The review said that many employers were concerned about not attracting the right mix of graduates and that companies were often not doing enough to communicate with prospective candidates.

Sir Tim made 54 recommendations, including a number on how to encourage more so-called ‘sandwich’ degrees which involve some form of work, and ways of increasing internships.

He said that where internships are unpaid, universities should use funds they receive from the office for Fair Access, which encourages students from poorer backgrounds to go to university, to support eligible youngsters rather than condone a policy that could ‘inhibit social mobility’.

He suggested universities should only charge students on a work placement year £1,000 rather than the permitted maximum of £4,500, and interest charges on student loans should be suspended.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the world’s best universities were building deeper links with business, adding that the Government will now ‘carefully consider’ the report’s recommendations.

The conclusions are likely to increase fears the professions are dumbing down in order to widen access and concerns this could damage Britain’s already unstable economy.

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Young People Enrol With Blues / News Archive / – The Official Website of Everton Football Club

Young People Enrol With Blues

Everton’s first ever Apprentice Scheme launches.

A group of young people were at Goodison Park on Monday (27 February) to enrol on Everton’s first ever Apprenticeship Scheme.

Everton in the Community, the Blues’ official award-winning charity, launched a new apprenticeship programme in November to help local people gain recognised qualifications and experience in order to work in the sports industry.

The Blues are working in partnership with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and LifeSkills to offer 17 apprenticeships, which cover a range of different roles for people looking to get onto the career ladder in sport.

The apprenticeship roles include disability coaches, football development officers, an Everton 4 Employment tutor and social inclusion coach and are attached to Everton in the Community and the Everton Academy, which is based at the Club’s training ground, Finch Farm.

The programmes last for 48 weeks and in that time apprentices will work, learn and earn as an employee of Everton in the Community.

An apprenticeship is a great way to start a career as it offers participants the chance to learn and gain industry recognised qualification and earn a wage at the same time – a fantastic and debt-free way of learning.

For more information about the Everton Apprenticeships Scheme click here or call 0151 530 5253.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

The loony Left, out to destroy youngsters’ hopes of a job – Telegraph

The loony Left, out to destroy youngsters’ hopes of a job

Tesco was one of the firms scared out of the work experience programme

Tesco was one of the firms scared out of the work experience programme

By Boris Johnson

Last Updated: 7:21AM GMT 27/02/2012

Businesses that offer the young a chance of real work should be praised, not vilified, says Boris Johnson.

Well isn’t that just great. Isn’t that just abso-flipping-lutely fan-blooming-tastic. Just when you thought the loony Left had reached rock bottom – with their sagacious proposals to “hang the bankers” and put taxes up to 80 per cent – they have come up with something even worse. There are so-called socialists in London who are now taking active steps to scupper young people’s chances of finding employment.

Here we are with an economy still taking ages to recover. We have more and more young people out of work, and who find themselves caught in a catch-22. They are told they can’t get a job unless they have some work experience; and they can’t get any work experience unless someone is willing to give them a job.

The Coalition has come up with a scheme to help them into places of work, and to give them at least some of the confidence and the credentials they crave. Instead of just drawing benefits and sitting at home, waiting for their luck to change, they are given the option – the option – of getting some practical understanding of what it is like to be an employee. Since January last year about 34,000 people aged 16-24 have been given their Jobseeker’s Allowance and travel costs while doing work experience in a huge range of businesses. They are not forced to do it, and they can pull out of it within a week if they don’t like it – with no loss of benefits.

But the overwhelming majority have been in favour, and more than 50 per cent have come off benefits within 13 weeks of signing up for the scheme – most of them to go into full-time jobs. All sorts of companies have found room for these young people – from Tesco to Boots to Debenhams to Argos, and many other smaller businesses. It seems on the face of it a benign and commonsensical arrangement, when those young people would otherwise be excluded from the workplace at a formative period of their lives.

And yet there are a tiny number of bellyachers from the Socialist Workers Party who have decided that they hate the scheme, that it is a ramp for bullying and exploitation, and that they are going to disrupt it in any way they can. The amazing thing is that they appear to be succeeding. They have been sitting with their placards in McDonald’s and Tesco, and wailing about “slave labour”.

They have been bawling about the need for “proper” jobs, and denouncing all companies who cooperate with the scheme. You may wonder what these “proper” jobs might be: presumably the kind of self-replicating public sector positions that so rampantly expanded in the era of Gordon Brown, and that helped to wreck the public finances.

But the worst of it is that the companies themselves are taking fright. They don’t want to be thought of as silk top-hatted slave-drivers. They know that a spirit of anti-capitalism stalks the land, a fire-breathing beast that has shrivelled Stephen Hester’s bonus in its nostril-blast, and scorched Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, and now seeks whomever else it may devour.

They have seen what happened to the St Paul’s clergy who got in the way of the Occupy movement – and they don’t want to be the next in line. Certain sections of the media have been flamming it up, with loose talk of “workfare”, and the companies are now nervously telling the Government that they would rather not be involved.

Well, it is quite vital that they hold their nerve, and that they continue to help young people into work – indeed, it is vital that they step up their efforts.

One of the biggest problems we now face is that companies are relatively flush with cash – but don’t have the nerve to spend it; and that means they are neither expanding nor taking on more staff. This is precisely the moment when they need to be given every possible encouragement – and praise – for letting young people through their doors. They should be championed, they should be extolled, for taking on young people as workers, and the bleats of protest from the loony Left should be ignored.

In London we have been working with the National Apprenticeship Service to create more opportunities for young people – and in the last 18 months we have helped place about 54,000 apprentices. People are getting off benefits and into work. They are earning at least the minimum wage. Instead of collapsing back into depression and self-doubt they are in a place of work – with all its stresses and joys – and they are learning the cunning you need to hold down a job.

They are finding out about turning up on time, and wearing a suit, and office politics: all kinds of things that you can never really understand in even the best training colleges. They are getting the appetite and ambition and competitive work ethic that you can only find in a place of work itself. So far, 85 per cent of them have gone on to get full-time employment, and we need to accelerate this scheme. We are currently seeing new apprenticeships generated in London – which used to lag behind the rest of the country – at a rate of 5,000 a week.

We think we will get up to 100,000 by the end of the year. There is much more that can be done to make the scheme work faster and better. I am now pushing to make sure that businesses that take on apprentices get a National Insurance holiday. We are looking at ways of encouraging people to stay in work, for instance by giving them – as a bonus – a share of the saving in unemployment benefit.

These schemes are working, because business can see clear benefits from hiring apprentices. They are typically loyal and hard-working, and all the evidence is that firms that hire apprentices are more productive. The man who transformed modern Tesco didn’t arrive as an Oxbridge graduate trainee. Sir Terry Leahy began by sweeping floors.

It doesn’t matter where you start. It just matters where you are going, and you can’t get going unless you are given a start.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Bentley Motors apprentice day in Crewe attracts 500 teenagers | This is Staffordshire

Bentley Motors apprentice day attracts 500 teenagers

MORE than 500 teenagers flooded an open day at a luxury car manufacturer to apply for 20 places on a training scheme.

The teenagers mingled with £10 million pounds of luxury at Bentley’s Crewe headquarters at the weekend, ahead of applying to become apprentices. But with just 20 places up for grabs on the training schemes, they were told how tough it will be to win through.

  1. THE APPRENTICES: Matthew Farrell, above, and Jessika Camm, right. Below, tour guide Alan Powell. Pictures: Clare Jennings
    THE APPRENTICES: Matthew Farrell, above, and Jessika Camm, right. Below, tour guide Alan Powell. Pictures: Clare Jennings

The visitors were taken round the Pyms Lane plants lineage room, where the history of the world class company is detailed.

They drooled over flagship models, including a 1929 Blower racing car, worth £6 million, and a full-sized Bentley made from clay, to illustrate how the new designs are moulded into shape.

Then the youngsters were invited to try their hands at the many skills on offer in the apprenticeships – from coach trimming to hi-tech electronics.

They talked to 12 current apprentices, who demonstrated some of the skills they have acquired during their training, and were also shown a film about what it is like to work for the company.

Manning a stand focusing on luxury Bentley seats, apprentice Matthew Farrell, aged 18, from Stanley, near Endon, said: “I swapped a place at the Manchester Royal Northern College of Music to become an apprentice.

“So many people applied I feel lucky to have been chosen, and am now halfway through my four-year apprenticeship.

“I always wanted to get into engineering and I like cars, but you don’t need to show fantastic technical skill to get a place. The company was more interested in whether I could work as part of a team.”

Recruitment for apprentices starts on March 17, and the open day was the second staged to encourage candidates to apply to join the near-4,000 workforce which last year built and sold 7,000 cars – a third more than in 2010.

It followed visits to local schools to stimulate interest in the event.

On hand to chat to budding colleagues was 19-year-old Jessika Camm from Kidsgrove, who is the only female apprentice in the class of 20 recruited two years ago.

She said: “The lads are really great and I fit in really well.

“Once the novelty wore off I was treated just like anyone else and it’s wonderful to be learning my trade from such a famous company.

“I have been interested in engineering since I was 14 and love cars and tinkering with them.

“I got a GCSE in engineering and it’s a dream come true to be involved in the production of such beautiful cars.

“I would urge any other girls not to worry about coming forward – everyone is on the same footing here.”

The 36-year career of Alan Powell started as an apprentice between 1976 and 1980. His skill was coach trimming, but he is now part of a sales and marketing team which talks to 6,500 customers a year.

Also a tour guide of the works, 52-year-old Alan, from Sandbach, said: “I still get the same thrill being at Bentley as when I started all those years ago. Pride in these beautiful cars never leaves you.

“People who buy them are not just acquiring a car, they are buying into a noble piece of art and I love being part of that process.

“From the faces of these youngsters here today, the feel of the cars is pretty universal.”

Lorna Furber, personnel co-ordinator for trainees, said: “These open days just go from strength to strength as the youngsters realise the quality of the apprenticeships.

“Bentley has always stuck with the apprenticeship programme through the recession, and the Government is now encouraging the creation of schemes throughout the country.

“What we have been doing for years is now seen as the future.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Review into short apprenticeship to conclude by April | FE Week

Review into short apprenticeship to conclude by April


Reviews into short duration apprenticeships are due to be finalised by April, the Skills Minister John Hayes has revealed.

A total of 87 providers have so far been reviewed by the Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) for running programmes which last six months or less.

However, while 29 have been brought to a “satisfactory conclusion”, the review has so far identified 10 primary contractors and three subcontractors where the Agency and NAS have significant and unresolved concerns.

At least one case has been referred to the Agency’s Special Investigations Unit.

The Agency will significantly tighten the contract and funding guidance from August 2012 to eliminate poor practice.”

The news comes as Mr Hayes today updated parliament on progress to drive up quality, as well as introducing new measures to come into place in the coming months.

Mr Hayes, in a written parliamentary statement, said: “An apprenticeship must involve significant new learning and time spent achieving competence and confidence in the job, which is why I am taking steps to ensure all apprenticeships are of a sufficient length to allow this learning to be embedded.

“Following my announcement in December, the National Apprenticeship Service will shortly publish the detail of a new 12 month duration requirement for all 16-18 year olds.

“This will come into effect for all starts from August 2012, although we expect many providers to change their delivery models before then.”

A roundup of the apprenticeship review:

  • 87 training organisations providers, sub-contractors and directly funded employers delivering Apprenticeships of short duration (six months or less) warranted review by the Agency and NAS.
  • 29 cases have been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. These will continue to be monitored to ensure that issues do not occur and in preparation for the new requirements on duration from August 2012.
  • Where cases have been concluded, providers have changed their delivery models to be fully compliant or ended the delivery of frameworks that don’t meet the requirements.
  • Most providers have revised their programmes to meet the challenge in quality standards that are required.
  • So far, the review has identified 10 primary contractors and 3 subcontractors where the Agency and NAS have significant and unresolved concerns. NAS and the Agency will work with closely with these providers to conclude a full investigation of the specifics of the cases and identify suitable resolutions, including improving, adapting or, if necessary, withdrawing provision.
  • Following major reviews, in the case of 3 sub-contractors, prime contractors have decided to end their contractual relationship.
  • At least one case has been referred to the Agency’s Special Investigations Unit.
  • It is has been made clear to providers that contracts which meet funding requirements technically but fail to meet the more comprehensive quality standards we expect of Apprenticeships are not acceptable. The Agency will significantly tighten the contract and funding guidance from August 2012 to eliminate poor practice.
  • The reviews of the majority of the cases that remain will be finalised by April 2012.


Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

New ‘enquiry panel’ to review poor apprenticeship providers | FE Week

New ‘enquiry panel’ to review poor apprenticeship providers

The panel will report directly to Skills Minister John Hayes, who revealed the news as part of plans to increase the government’s efforts to safeguard and improve the quality and standards of apprenticeships.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Hayes also today updated parliament on progress to drive up quality, as well as introducing new measures to come into place in the coming months.

They include reviewing frameworks deemed “a cause for concern” and new measures to ensure all adult apprenticeships are of a “sufficient length” to deliver the training that employers need.

He said: “The majority of apprenticeships are the gold standard in vocational training. They boost individuals’ life chances and build the skills that drive growth.

“We must be relentless in our drive to ensure all apprenticeships are as good as the best, to identify and root out any instances of poor quality provision, and to raise the bar on standards.

“I am determined to build on this momentum and go further so that as more people than ever have the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship, every one of them will receive the high quality training they deserve.”

Latest developments:

  • From August 2012, all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds will be for a minimum of 12 months
  • NAS and the Skills Funding Agency’s comprehensive review of all short duration programmes has already resulted in significant improvements to many apprenticeships and the withdrawal of inadequate sub-contracted provision
  • New safeguards are being put in place to strengthen monitoring, reporting and subcontracting arrangements, including making public a list of all sub contracted provision over £100,000
  • New contracts will ensure that training providers not only act according to regulations, but also within the spirit of the apprenticeship programme
  • A new ‘enquiry panel’ has been established, reporting directly to the Minister, to manage poor quality providers as soon as they are reported.

Next steps over the coming months:

  • New measures will ensure all adult apprenticeships are of sufficient length to deliver the training employers need
  • NAS will undertake a review into apprenticeship frameworks that have been deemed a cause for concern
  • New guidance on the implementation of quality standards will be published
  • The government will take forward measures to ensure all apprentices are given the opportunity to get Level 2 English and Maths.

Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said “sound progress” is being made to ensure that apprenticeships represent “outstanding training and employment” opportunities.

He said: “Historically, growth in apprenticeships has been excellent but hasn’t always been matched by quality.

“The actions we are taking now are to clearly state expected standards, strengthen the processes of monitoring and assuring these standards and address any areas that fall short.

“Raising quality is not a quick fix but about defining a new era that firmly places apprenticeships as first rate vocational programmes offering higher level skills and qualifications in even more industries and sectors, supporting people into employment, boosting the skills of those already in work and bringing benefits to employers that invest in skills.”

Christine Gaskell MBE, member of the board for personnel at Bentley Motors, said although apprenticeships are a long-term investment, they deliver higher skills, loyalty and innovative ideas.

She said: “Good quality apprenticeship schemes are the bedrock on which our business future is built.

“If companies such as Bentley are to remain internationally competitive, we have to attract the best people and give them a training programme that allows them to flourish.”

For more, see next week’s FE Week.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Colleges, are you ready for the raising of the participation age? | FE Week

Colleges, are you ready for the raising of the participation age?


Increasing the minimum age at which young people in England can leave education or training is an unsettling prospect.

No-one can predict with absolute certainty how the further education (FE) sector will adapt to the implementation of mandatory participation up to the age of 17 next year.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) held an event in Paddington last week to give advice on how FE colleges could attract more students during the recruitment period and prepare for increased competition from schools.

Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive (research and development) at the AoC, said colleges should be preparing an offer which will differentiate themselves from rival learning providers.

“You need to devise an appropriate response, taking into account not only capacity, but also local need, who else is around and doing things and also what the available funds are – what is actually possible,” Mr Gravatt said.

Raising the participation age will mean that teenagers aged between 16 and 18 are required, by law, to undertake either 534 hours of full-time education, an apprenticeship, full-time work or volunteering supplemented with 280 hours of part-time education.

Under the reforms, colleges and schools will have a duty to monitor attendance and employers will need to ensure training is being delivered appropriately to the learner.

Mr Gravatt warned that the implementation of the policy could have a negative impact on the funding allocated for each student.

“After having several years of the 16-18 education budget going up and us as a sector using that very well, the way in which we will get increased numbers in the next few years is partly at the expense of making some quite significant cuts in terms of funding for students,” he said.

“It’s a policy with desirable ends but is coming in a financial environment which is difficult.”

Mr Gravatt said the reform was being used by government as a solution to youth unemployment and the number of people not in education, employment and training (NEET).

“Whatever the law says, or whatever policy used to say, whatever you do think or used to think, the number one issue is tackling youth unemployment,” he said.

“A college can either engage with that and do it well, or it may feel actually others will do it better. It’s a choice, but given the priority it’s an issue and you should see the full participation for 16-17 year-olds within that context at the moment.”

David Russell, director for participation and vocational education at the Department for Education (DfE), appeared to agree with Mr Gravatt and emphasised the government’s interest not only in tackling NEETs, but also those currently in jobs without training.

“We also know that a very small number of 16 and 17 year-olds in jobs without training, although there are a very small number of them, they only have marginally better outcomes in the long run than those who are NEET,” Mr Russell said.

“So we are almost as concerned about those in jobs without training.”

David Wood, principal and chief executive of Lancaster & Morecambe College, said raising the participation age was creating a great deal of fuss over a very small proportion of learners.

“Some of this seems to be much ado about nothing,” Mr Wood said.

“It’s a very small group of people which we are chasing and at one level EMA is being removed, the fees for higher education have gone up incredibly high, local authorities are losing their authority, academies are increasing competition. All those things seem to be challenging the ability to tackle this group head on.”

Mr Wood agreed however that competition from schools would continue to be a huge issue for FE colleges.

“I’ve got eight schools around me, for 11-18’s, who won’t let me in. The root of the NEET problem is in poor information and guidance I think,” he said.

“So even though we’ve got lots of people participating, a lot of them are in the wrong courses and we’ll pay for that through their lives.”

He added: “What I don’t want to be doing, is fighting other providers for those young people.

“What I see at the moment is a fair degree of anarchy and chaos about to emerge for a very small group of people.”

Jon Thorn, head of business development at the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), added that apprenticeships shouldn’t be seen as a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problem.

He said: “There’s always a risk around a programme which is doing well that it does become a solution for every problem or challenge that there might be.”

It’s a policy with desirable ends but is coming in a financial environment which is difficult.”

Corrienne Peasgood, deputy principal of City College Norwich, said simply creating more places for students won’t be enough to raise the level of participation either.

She said: “Between us, I really do believe that we can find enough opportunities for full participation at 16 and then later at 17, but is that enough? I don’t think we’re in the field of dreams territory, that we can be sure that if we build it, they can come.”

Raising the participation age is likely to cause some problems for the FE sector, but Fiona McMillan OBE, president of the AoC and principal of Bridgwater College, said it would help young people in the long run.

“We all know that not being in education or training beyond 16 means you are considerably more likely to experience being out of work, more likely to have a criminal record, more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and from bouts of depression,” she said.

“There are really strong social, personal and economic reasons for looking at extending the time that young people are in employment, and in training, and are gaining qualifications and valuable experience.”


Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Daily Mirror

Daily Mirror

McDonald’s has ­pocketed £10million of public money for an ­apprenticeship scheme …but has not created a single new job with it.

Instead, the multi-national fast-food giant has spent the whole sum on ­“career progression” for 18,000 existing staff.

A Sunday Mirror investigation has found that among nine other major firms which take the most money from the scheme, ­£20million has been spent to create just 2,559 new jobs.

With unemployment hitting 2.67million PM David Cameron has pushed apprenticeships as a way to get young people back into work. In July he revamped the Skills Funding Agency to work directly with employers and recently said: “Apprenticeships are at the heart of the kind of economy we want to build: one where many more young people have the chance to learn a proper trade.”

Taxpayers have so far paid out £30,934,034 to create jobs which cost £12,088 each. But anyone on an appren­tice’s minimum wage takes home just £5,200 a year.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: “When a multi-billion pound company takes millions from taxpayers and doesn’t create a single new job, then you know the government’s back to work schemes are descending into chaos.

“The Sunday Mirror has shown the Government has big questions to answer. The Tories slashed Labour’s successful Future Jobs Fund. Now long-term youth unemployment has doubled and we have a million young unemployed. We want to know why more appren­ticeships aren’t being created for all this money.”

A McDonald's employee adds meat patties to a burger bun at a restaurant in London

A McDonald’s spokesman said: “Our apprenticeships’ scheme is about supporting and enabling career progression, not job ­creation. Since we started our apprenticeships programme, 11,000 employees have ­completed it and a further 7,000 employees are currently studying towards the qualification.

“We invest £36million every year in ­training. Like many UK employers, we receive some government funding in addition to our own investment, which enables us to adapt our training into nationally ­recognised, transferable qualifications.”

She said the firm hoped to create 2,500 new jobs this year.

Latest figures show 1.04 million 16-24-year-olds are unemployed, the highest number since 1986.

This week Mr Cameron claimed firms had offered more than 5,500 new ­ apprenticeships since the start of the year.

However, new data shows the top 10 ­companies to receive money from the Skills Funding Agency shared a total of £30,934,034 to create just 2,559 new positions. Under the terms of the funding, companies are able to spend some of the money on retraining ­existing staff.

Phones4U said it had spent its share of the public money on “upskilling”. A spokesman said: “In the past year, we have trained and upskilled over 2,700 of our 5,000 employees.”

A spokesman for BAe Systems said each apprentice, which costs the taxpayer an average £10,555, had a further £90,000 invested in them by the company itself.

Tesco would not say how many apprentices they employed.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920