Nearly 280,000 young people are involved in the Youth Training programme, which leads to NVQ level 2. Its success in creating a well skilled and adaptable community of workers is fundamental to national competitiveness and to achieving the National Targets.
Although Youth Training offers a good work-based route to qualifications, its status may suffer as Modern Apprenticeships attract many of the most able trainees.
The Government guarantee of a training place to any young person not in full-time education or a job compounds the problem. Some perceive Youth Training as being used by those who have little motivation but wish to secure state support. The long-term prospects of young people in Youth Training are not helped by the absence of a requirement to develop their key skills. Provision is also necessary to help young people who are not yet ready for NVQ level 1 make progress.
While leaving a traineeship to take a job is wholly understandable, the completion rate (46 per cent) is unsatisfactory. Although, in the period April 1994 to January 1995, half the leavers obtained a full or part-qualification, six months after leaving 22 per cent were known to be unemployed.
Youth Training should be relaunched as a system of National Traineeships progressing to Modern Apprenticeships and the work-based route. National Traineeships should offer a broad and flexible programme incorporating NVQs (at levels 1, 2 and perhaps 3), key skills and (where appropriate) other units, short courses and qualifications, such as GNVQs and GCSEs.
Acceptance to a traineeship should be based on assessment. It should not be the fall-back position for all young people without a job.
For those not yet ready for NVQ level 1, national entry level provision should be developed in a range of vocational contexts, encouraging the development of key skills.
As with Modern Apprenticeships, applicants for National Traineeships and national entry level provision should enter agreements with the training providerTEC outlining the responsibilities of both sides. Clear routes should be established through the levels of the National Traineeships into Modern Apprenticeships, college or work. TECs should be funded to contribute with local partners to national entry level provision. Consideration should be given to reformulating the Government's training guarantee.
Modern Apprenticeships: This initiative, launched in 1995, aims to attract able young people to develop their careers through the work-based route on a fast track to NVQ level 3. Subsequent options include higher education. Schools and the careers service should be well briefed about Modern Apprenticeships.
Employers should ensure that apprenticeships provide not only skills but sufficient knowledge and understanding to enable app-rentices to go on to part-time, full-time or sandwich courses leading to diplomas and degrees.
Participation and achievement for males and females, and people from minority ethnic groups, should be monitored.
National traineeships leading to apprenticeships to replace Youth Training
New traineeships to teach key skills and lead to qualifications
Acceptance to traineeships to depend on entry qualifications