How do you ensure your traineeships are successful?
There are many key components that you as an education provider need to consider and implement to ensure traineeships are successful. The first key component to consider when designing your traineeships is that no one model fits all. Traineeships need to be flexible and tailored to the needs of individual learner, employer and local job market, with an emphasis on outcomes and destinations.
Furthermore, for a traineeship to be successful in preparing the learner for employment and getting them into full-time work a holistic approach needs to be taken at every stage of the traineeship; from the design of the traineeship, to the recruitment and matching process of learners, to progress tracking and the overall success of the traineeship.
Below we look at how a holistic approach can be taken to different aspects of traineeships and how they contribute to the success of traineeships:
- Curriculum design – ensure all core elements are integrated in the traineeship from the very beginning in a clear structure. In addition, provide learners with clear learning aims and outcomes for each area, so they know what they are working towards and what needs to be achieved at each stage of the programme. Other key aspects to implement in the curriculum include: sector focus – educate on one or two sectors in detail relevant to the learner and traineeship with a clear line of sight to occupational standards, rather than briefly covering a range of sectors; the integration of good quality IAG (information, advice and guidance), including: careers advice; personal development; learning support; student progress tracking; and opportunities for regular feedback from both student and employer. This will allow for building the learner’s confidence and ensure they develop the essential skills required for the workplace and by the employer.
- Employer and stakeholder engagement – is vital to ensure transparency in traineeships and ensure they are fit for purpose. Stakeholder engagement needs to be undertaken before traineeships are created and continue after the traineeship is completed. It’s important that you continue a two-way communication with the learners and employers after the traineeship is completed, to ensure the skills learnt on the traineeship are sufficient and allow the learner to progress up the career ladder after they have settled into full-time employment. This information is key for influencing the design of your future traineeships and ensuring they are robust. Key people to consult with include local authorities, employers, parents, learners, Job Centre Plus, National Careers Service, National Probation Service or wherever the young person has come from. Communicating with key individuals in your local area allow you to understand the priorities for employment in your locality and create traineeships that meet the needs of employers and fill gaps in your local area.
- Branding and marketing – focus on the outcomes of traineeships rather than what they are, as it will attract motivated learners who want to progress into employment or further education. Highlight the careers guidance aspect and traineeships being a step-up to jobs.
- Matching process and targeted recruitment – it’s vital that you match the needs of the learners with the employers and put them together in an appropriate programme. For this you need to understand the skillsets required by the employer, the motivations of both the employers and learners and the type of learners you need for the traineeship before you can recruit the learners. The best way to recruit learners is through a combination of methods including: interviewing; profiling, e.g. through DISC or Talent Finder; screening, e.g. through QubeLearning; and observation of tasks.
- Progress tracking – it’s important that you record the learner’s progress and the learner receives regular feedback from their provider and employer throughout the traineeship, to build their confidence and know in which areas they need to work on their skills, in order to meet the requirements of the traineeship and employer. Without this, due to the amount of learning that takes place in a short period of time on traineeships learners could become overwhelmed. As a result, it’s vital that you use feedback opportunities for confidence building as well as to discuss areas of improvements. At the end of the work placement it’s important that the learner gets a formal interview – where a vacancy exists – or an exit interview with the employer, in order to practice their new skills and review how much they have learnt, setting them up for employment. In addition, it’s vital to gain feedback from the learner and employer on the design and structure of the traineeship in order to improve your traineeship provision, ensure your offer is competitive and continues to meet the needs of local employers and learners.
Providers with the highest rates of progression are able to adapt their models to meet the needs of the individual learner, employers and in future the changing needs of the economy. This will be critical in recovery post COVID-19, as we will need to review the sectors to see where the vacancies are in order for traineeships to fill employment gaps, and also to ensure traineeships prepare learners for potential new ways of working i.e. remotely. Furthermore, going forward a priority within traineeships will be having flexible modes of delivery and an offer of appropriate qualifications adaptable to changing needs.