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Getting a foot in work door through training
WITH one in six 16 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training – NEETS as they are known – the Traineeships Programme aims to give a generation of youngsters a much-needed foot in the door of work.
The scheme – unveiled this summer by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock – aims to help youngsters develop key skills – such as writing a CV and practising their interview techniques. I
t will also tutor them in basic maths and English and, perhaps most importantly, provide work placements – all with the aim of impressing potential employers enough to get youngsters their first job or apprenticeship.
One of the first companies to sign up to the Traineeships Programme is non-profit-making charity The Order of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), which already employs more than 1,000 people across its 17 Oxfordshire care homes, and hopes to get more young blood into this burgeoning job sector.
The trust is offering 16 to 18-year-olds the opportunity to take part in a 12-week traineeship course and has partnered with training provider Lifetime Training, which will deliver the courses this autumn in Banbury.
Melanie Bennett, 17, from Wallingford, has signed up for the course.
She said: “I left school wanting a career with children but not having done well in my GCSEs. “I felt lost, with no idea of where to turn, almost like there was no hope.
“But recently I have been volunteering in the Orders of St John Care Home in Wallingford and really enjoy it.
“They do such a great job for the people they care for and I know I can benefit from their experience.
“I’m excited about taking part in the traineeships course, gaining new skills and building my confidence even more, and hopefully this will lead to a full-time job or apprenticeship.”
Neither youngsters nor the companies are paid under the scheme. And there is no guarantee of a job at the end of it. Lifetime Training – and other training companies delivering the scheme – will receive government funding from the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. St John will include several classroom-based weeks of work preparation and training, followed by introduction days and then a four-week work placement at one of the care homes.
Trainees will also gain a Level 1 Award in Introduction to Health and Social Care and Children and Young People settings.
Andrea Phillips, qualifications manager for St John, said: “We take training and developing very seriously, so we jumped at the chance to be one of the first care providers to be part of the Government’s new National Traineeship scheme.
“It gives us a chance to nurture talent in young people who believe they may have a future in adult social care.
“The structure of the scheme ensures the highest quality work experience along with training opportunities to help young individuals in any career path they choose.”
Bob Bradley, president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the scheme.
He said: “We fully support the traineeships programme as it is vital that young people are work-ready and more employable.
“Traineeships will give these young people the opportunity to develop the skills and workplace experience that employers require.”
But not everyone is convinced companies will sign up with no incentive. Lyndon Biddle is the manager of Trax, an Oxford charity set up 20 years ago to combat car crime that has gone on to help more than 5,000 young people gain qualifications and practical experience.
Trax also recently set up two new social enterprise schemes to provide youngsters with practical and paid work experience in catering and bicycle renovations.
Mr Biddle said: “I think it’s a good idea and much needed. However, one of the key challenges is going to be delivering ‘high quality work experience’.
“It’s going to require a large amount of employers, and because they won’t get paid I think they will struggle to get enough employers involved.
“Also you would need to be careful that the young people are not simply seen as free labour.
“I like the idea but I’m not sure how it will work in practise.” HSBC, BT, General Motors and Virgin Media are among 100 businesses said to have signed up to the Traineeships Programme.
Mr Hancock, the skills minister, said: “Young people in Britain deserve the chance to work and get on in life, which is why we’re introducing traineeships to help them get on the first rung of the ladder.
“Employers value real experience, which is why I’m delighted that more than 100 businesses have come forward.
“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.”
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “We have been arguing for a number of years for an effective pre-apprenticeship programme that helps young people become competitive for a sought-after apprenticeship place with an employer.
“With the right content and conditions, traineeships could provide such a programme and contribute to reducing the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET)."
- Local young people interested in a career in care are invited to attend an open day on Monday, October 7 at 11am for 2 hours at Orchard Meadows, Prescott Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 0FE. To find out more and sign-up call Lifetime Training on 0117 3142811.
Care home altered lawyer’s career
SAMANTHA Ncube was studying to become a lawyer before making a drastic career change into the care sector.
Now 29 she is the manager of OSJCT’s Spencer Court, in Woodstock, and is hoping to use the Traineeships Programme to attract more youngsters into the care sector.
She said: “I think, like a lot of young people, I took what I thought was the right pathway for me at a young age, but after real work experience I saw a completely new direction.
“After my law degree I took a year out before my Masters and started working in a care home to earn some money.
“Right away I saw it as a hugely rewarding role and I was surprised at the career progression – most things I had read about care homes had been negative up until that point and I still think a lot of young people don’t really yet appreciate the way in which the care industry is set to grow with our ageing population.”
She added: “I never went back to law but stayed in care and I really enjoy my job. “I also enjoy it when young people come to this care home on work experience and see for themselves what a promising and progressive career it can be.
“I am looking forward to Spencer Court being one of the OSJCT homes taking part in the traineeship courses.
“Young people bring enthusiasm and a real sense of caring to the job and the residents love them being here.
“We are hoping to give young people the help and support they need to find their place in the job market.”
‘Firms know how to get best from NEETS’
JAMES Woollard has been hiring NEETS independently for several years and this year alone has taken on four at his Witney-based company Polythene UK Ltd.
He said: “Taking on NEETS to me is a no-brainer. These kids come in and take a bit of working on for about a year, but after that they are hard-working and fiercely loyal to me and my business.
“I would like to see many more companies taking on NEETS because I know they would benefit as I have, but I would like this new traineeship scheme simplified.
“There is no need for a training company to be involved – companies know how to train people and can work with local colleges offering relevant day release courses.
“The Government funding these training companies receive should be offered to employers. And the youngsters should also receive expenses while they are training.
“The idea behind the scheme is good.
“It just needs to be delivered more wisely.”
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