All young people in England must continue in education or training until the age of 18 from this academic year onwards, following a change in Government regulations.
The decision by the Department for Education is being hailed as an opportunity for businesses to contribute to developing more tailor-made training programmes and vocational education resources targeted at less academic learners.
Businesses working outside the traditional “trades” sectors are expected to participate more widely in apprenticeship schemes as the reform is aimed at encouraging more young people to consider the apprenticeship training route.
For its part, the Government believes that raising the participation age will improve the social mobility of young people as well as stimulate economic growth.
Apprenticeships are now firmly embedded in the digital age, with creative and media industries embracing this training route. Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme, for example, embraces everything from contact centres to environmental management, fashion and media to wind energy, retail and childcare. Engagement in apprenticeship models in England is also extending its reach, delivering better prospects for permanent, long-term employment.
There are clear benefits to businesses and the community in general who become involved in working with young people who do not respond well to more traditional teaching methods.
Businesses, either on their own or through partnerships, can spark young people’s interest by employing interactive methodologies, such as learning through film. On many occasions, grant support is available for businesses who want to participate.
Film Nation UK is a new organisation, formed by the merger of the film education charities Filmclub and First Light. Its recently-launched Outreach Grant programme offers project funding to support organisations to engage with a minimum of 20 young people aged 14-19 who are not in formal education.
Raising the participation age does not necessarily mean that young people will have to stay in school until they reach the age of 18 – good news for pupils who are less engaged by traditional education. They will have a choice about how they continue in education or training post-16. Options include full-time study in a school, college or with a training provider; full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training; or an apprenticeship.
In England, businesses can access financial support: the Government fully funds accredited training for 16-18 year-olds and local authorities have a duty to secure a suitable education or training place for all young people.
For businesses which do not necessarily want to go down the apprenticeship route, the raising of the participation age reform could present an opportunity to design their own training programmes, creating well-prepared future employees with a skill set of their own choosing, rather than wrestling with a programme devised by an outsider.
Employers may also wish to work with awarding bodies to get their own bespoke training programmes accredited; they might also consider becoming awarding bodies themselves. Further information is available at www.awarding.org.uk