Recent research by Ipsos and the Institute for Employment Studies highlights the role traineeships can play in restoring young people’s confidence after the isolation of the pandemic, and bridging the gap between education and employment.
Traineeships are aimed at 16-to-24 year-olds who are motivated to get an apprenticeship or job, but have little to no work experience. They combine training with a work placement and usually last between six weeks and six months. In response to the challenges of Covid-19, the traineeships programme was changed to be more accessible to young people and employers.
IES and Ipsos interviewed training providers, employers, and trainees themselves about their experience of traineeships in a pandemic. As well as taking part in interviews, young people kept a diary about their traineeship for 5 days using Applife, our mobile app for qualitative research. This allows young people to share their views and experiences in a format and at a time that suits them. Using Applife brought the research team closer to young people’s day-to-day experiences of the training and work placement, and helped generate discussion in the subsequent follow-up interview.
Young people said they had benefited from their traineeship because:
- Most had no prior work experience, and the placement had given them insight into the world of work – but in a supportive, lower-pressure setting. The reduction of the minimum work placement from 100 to 70 hours helped employers offer placements at a difficult time. It also made the programme more attractive to young people, since the placement is unpaid, and they could move on more quickly when ready for an apprenticeship or job.
- Traineeship providers supported young people on their placements by providing work preparation training and individual support such as travel advice. Trainees valued the employability aspects of their training and liked that they could put these into practice straight away.
- Going into an unknown environment, meeting new people, and taking part in group activities gave young people a confidence boost. One young person who had dropped out of school as a result of bullying was surprised by how quickly they were able to gain Maths and English qualifications in a more supportive setting.
- It allowed young people to try something new and see if a career was for them, without committing to a qualification lasting a year or more. This was particularly helpful for young people who had dropped out of a course or lost a job and were looking to change direction. The expansion of traineeships to young people with level 3 qualifications (such as A-Levels) helped more young people try out a different path.
Overall, traineeships provide an established route for young people to get ready for work, make plans for their future and move outside their comfort zone.