Qube Learning CEO Joe Crossley on traineeships

Traineeships have been around since 2014 and are playing a pivotal part in supporting employers to prepare their workforce for the future, by bringing in young people that need a degree of reassurance and mentoring to become work-ready.

Qube Learning has been delivering traineeships since August 2014, with our provision growing year on year, and we have now developed nationwide relationships with both large and small employers that are seeing the benefits and results of our programme.

Traineeships are extremely important to the development of a young person’s career and their personal progression. The traineeship programme includes a work placement, work preparation training, English and maths tuition, on-the-job training with the employer, and, under some circumstances, a vocational ‘taster’.

The programme is aimed at those who aren’t quite work-ready but are motivated by the prospect of work. At Qube Learning, we’ve seen many students benefit from enrolling onto a traineeship.

A key aspect of traineeships is they allow young people to ‘sample’ a career while training in an area of their choice, gaining valuable practical work experience and increasing self-confidence. This allows them to work out, at their own pace, if it’s the correct career. It also provides assurance that if it isn’t what they had hoped for, they can walk away with a reference and skills they would not have had the opportunity to develop without such programmes being available.

The same is true for employers—it enables businesses to build a rapport with potential employees and make sure they adopt their values. Many companies that we work with find that there is a real, measurable return on investment by working with a trainee.


Qube Learning CEO Joe Crossley

Despite the significant advantages of traineeships, they are now under threat due to dwindling enrolment numbers and the fear is they will be phased out entirely unless the government supports providers to deliver these programmes effectively.

Statistics procured by FE Week under a freedom of information request showed that in comparison to the previous academic year, new starters for trainees in 2016/17 aged 16 to 18 fell by 5%—and a shocking 32% reduction in learner volumes for those aged 19 to 24.

These latest figures from the government are disappointing and more so given the fact that we know how well the programme can work once an effective delivery model is in place. Our own data for the same period shows an increase of 71 percent for 16- to 18-year-old starters and 21% for 19- to 24-year-olds.

Furthermore, an outstanding 85% of our trainees that achieve their programme progress onto a positive destination such as full-time employment or an apprenticeship, compared to a national average of around 42%.

We help to share good practice with other providers and have presented at numerous events to promote the benefits of traineeships, and demonstrating successful ways to recruit, engage and work with young people on these programmes, but more should be done by the government itself, which established the scheme in 2013 as a stepping stone to an apprenticeship.

Yet, despite this discouraging news, there is hope on the horizon. Since the levy was introduced in April 2017, our findings show a surge in interest in the traineeship programme from leading names across the retail, hospitality, medical and logistics and distribution sectors. They now see the huge advantages of training that allows them to recruit their future workforce and give them adequate training and guidance.

This interest has also spread across many schools and sixth forms, which is a positive step and gives people the opportunity to check what other routes are available to them besides A-levels and degrees.

But it’s not just the levy-size employers that see the reward of traineeships, it’s also a great way for small- and medium-sized enterprises and smaller, local businesses to find their future talent. For smaller scale businesses, a traineeship is outlined as a five-year career plan giving added investment to both the employer and trainee.

Our model works with pathways that many employers have in place and we have had huge success training new undiscovered talent who have left school with no qualifications and who are now in full-time careers.

A traineeship can also be the first step to an apprenticeship and possibly a degree apprenticeship, but this isn’t always right for everyone and programmes should be tailored to meet the trainee and employer needs to maximise potential.

The programme provides opportunities for people aged 16 to 24 and the positive outcomes show how it can be life-changing for those who are unsure of their career path.

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