Skills minister Nick Boles writes:
Since 2013 a quiet revolution has been taking place, a wholesale reform of the education system that has sought to melt away the distinctions between academic and vocational training and give each equal weight and worth.
We might not know where the future may lead, but we do know we can no longer afford to be precious about what are becoming increasingly false distinctions in our globalised economy.
Maths and English GCSEs have been recognised as the “ultimate vocational qualifications” while achieving parity between robust vocational courses and their academic equivalents has become a must.
Recognising the indispensability of work experience has been key to this transformation; it not only helps young people understand and prepare for the world of work, it can help them hone their study choices.
Traineeships take this one step further, providing 16-24 year olds with an intensive period of work experience and training to give them increased opportunities to enter an apprenticeship or employment.
When we designed traineeships, we took the best national and international evidence available and we listened to training providers, employers and young people about what works. This showed that a combination of work preparation, experience in the workplace and the opportunity to improve their English and maths was the most effective way to help young people progress towards employment.
While the government has created a framework for traineeships, it is the partnership of providers and employers that delivers them to young people, and they are delivering: traineeships have fast become an established part of the vocational education landscape. More than 10,000 young people took up opportunities in the first year of the programme, a figure we hope is doubled this year.
This is why we are challenging providers to continue developing their traineeship programmes. They will need to lead this growth, but we realise they cannot do it alone. We are also encouraging employers to work with them to offer quality work placements to teach our young people the realities of working in our modern, global world.
Traineeships provide an important foundation for our future, one in which experience and attitude fuse with qualifications to help create a future proof generation. We may not know what the future has in store, but we can do our level best to prepare the next generation for it.