The traineeship programme gets major boost - 17 July 2013
The government's traineeships programme received a boost today with the backing of some of the country's biggest employers.
Banking giant HSBC, communications firms BT and Virgin Media and car manufacturers General Motors and Mercedes-Benz are among more than 100 businesses across the country lending their support.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said he was "delighted" so many had come on board.
"I now want to urge more employers, no matter what size, to sign up to the programme and make the most of the talents of our young people," he said.
The government is publishing a delivery framework today setting out exactly how the programme will work.
Traineeships will be available from August and will offer a package of training and work experience to give people the skills and confidence to get a job or an apprenticeship.
They will offer training in English, mathematics and work preparation as well as high-quality work experience placements.
Traineeships for 16- to 19-year-olds were announced in May, and the programme was extended up to age 24 in the spending review in June.
The demand for traineeships is clearly growing among employers who offer apprenticeships, with many struggling to find quality candidates to fill vacancies.
Helen Taylor, who runs Mercedes-Benz's apprenticeship programme, said that despite having a large number of applicants there are some vacancies they cannot fill.
"Many of those candidates would have benefited from a vocational programme such as a traineeship, giving them the confidence plus some experience to demonstrate they are ready to make the move from education to employment," she said.
Adam Marshall, policy director at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "The combination of literacy, numeracy, and real work experience in the traineeships framework will help to bridge this gap and enable many more motivated young people to meet employers' standards."
But there are some concerns. Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the Institute for Learning, said the success of traineeships will depend on high-quality teaching and learning, delivered by qualified teachers and trainers.
And Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said there are questions as to how widespread the offer will be for candidates in the older age group, and raised fears that benefits rules may prevent some young people accessing a traineeship.
Strike action looms into view as UCU rejects FE pay offer - 17 July 2013
The University and College Union (UCU) is set to reject a pay offer for FE staff and ballot its members for strike action, the TES can reveal.
The Association of Colleges settled on a final offer of a 0.7 per cent pay increase last month after the joint trade unions rejected a previous offer of 0.5 per cent. The unions had demanded 5 per cent.
But the UCU's FE committee has decided that offer is unacceptable. A spokesman said: "Branches will meet when staff are back in September to consider the committee's recommendation to reject the offer and move towards a ballot for industrial action."
This causes a potential problem for the other unions, which are still mulling over the offer, as the AoC wants to implement the increase in August.
Unite and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are both consulting as many of their members as possible until the end of the month, with ATL agreeing "reluctantly" to recommend the deal as being the best achievable through negotiation.
Emma Mason, the AoC's director of employment, said it was "disappointed" by UCU's decision. "Their approach undermines the credibility of the agreement reached through the national joint forum. It is particularly disappointing at a time when the AoC is due to consult with its members about the future of national negotiations."
If the unions do not all agree on the final settlement then the AoC has indicated a majority decision will be accepted, meaning UCU members could well find themselves alone on the picket line and out in the cold over future pay talks.
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