Guarantees of work ruled out

School-leavers on the new National Traineeships which start in September must not expect them to be an automatic passport to work, training and enterprise council chiefs have warned.

Numbers opting for the new traineeships are expected to far exceed available jobs. It is hoped trainees will have at least six months "employed status" but this will not be guaranteed at the outset.

The steering group overseeing the development of the new National Traineeships met this week to examine proposed frameworks.

The traineeships, dubbed "junior apprenticeships" by Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, will replace youth training in September. Mrs Shephard says that the traineeships, designed and delivered by employers, will lead to high-quality vocational qualifications.

The steering group includes representatives from the industrial training organisations and the TEC National Council. It is intended that the National Traineeships will build on the best of current training and features of the Modern Apprenticeships.

The programmes will be based on NVQ level 2 plus the six key skills of communication, application of number, working with others, self-development, problem-solving and information technology.

The aim is to ensure the programmes avoid being just narrow occupational qualifications.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of Gloucestershire TEC, said: "We are looking for a real concentration on key skills. We want to make sure we get them established as a core, and move away from the more occupationally-based courses.

"We are getting employers to acknowledge that they are sharing the investment in broad-based skills, rather than the specific skills they may need for their immediate use. Involving employers in key skills is potentially a very big step forward."

The key decisions still to be made involve how much work the employer can realistically offer a trainee. Uptake is expected to be much bigger than that for Modern Apprenticeships.

Mr Hoyle said the six months "employed status" will give trainees real work experience and boost their chances of getting a permanent job.

At the beginning a trainee will be prepared for work with sessions on attitude, dress, behaviour and punctuality. Concentrating on this preparation is expected to help to prevent drop-outs. Youth Training was perceived to have a poor performance record and seen as a a dead-end for many young people.

National Traineeships will be targeted at those who are interested in entering work quickly. It will appeal to those who are interested in a broad range of employer. However, in some cases there may be opportunities to progress to a Modern Apprenticeship or to higher education. A growing number of graduates are now taking Modern Apprenticeships as they see these as a more effective route to work.

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