Occupational Traineeships are slowly being piloted across the country following their introduction into the post-16 educational world in recent months. Traineeships, designed to help 16-24 year-olds who are not quite ready for the apprenticeship or labour market, have been with us for a while.
Occupational Traineeships are designed to be much more specific, focusing on a targeted industry area, often with a skills shortage. In the North-East, Hartlepool College of Further Education recently delivered bricklaying focused occupational traineeships, which was a roaring success.
Another, focusing on fashion and textiles, is currently in development, championed by the likes of UK Fashion and Textiles, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Salford City College Group. This Traineeship receives excellent support from industry partners and will commence in May of this year.
Not all occupational traineeships are new. One prominent example in the North West of England is about to commence delivery for its sixth consecutive year – Build Salford.
This construction-focused Traineeship was initiated as a response to construction industry skills shortages and the need to align local, young Salford residents with the opportunities these shortages have presented. The Traineeship has been hugely successful so far. The last Traineeship saw 23 of its candidates progressing onto further training, apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeships at Salford City College and Salford City Council initiated the scheme in partnership and have worked hard over the years to develop and maintain an industry-led, collaborative approach to the design and delivery of a construction-specific occupational traineeship. Since its inception, almost one hundred young people from Salford have benefitted from the approach, with many now in successful careers across the construction sector.
A vital role for employers
Employers play a crucial role in occupational traineeships, from design input to delivery support, providing work experience and hopefully apprenticeship opportunities. This has been and continues to be the resounding strength of Build Salford. Brilliant, committed employers, passionate about attracting talented young people into their sector, are engaging in the programme. Over 25 employers or stakeholders support the programme, ensuring there is an abundant supply of opportunity and inspiration for the young people involved.
Recent Salford City College Trainee of the Year, Molly Jepp, has nothing but praise for the occupational Traineeship: “Build Salford provided me with a brilliant platform to enter into the construction sector as an electrical apprentice. The support and work experience I gained paved the way for my current apprenticeship. I now I have a great career ahead of me if I keep working hard.”
Molly, who works now as an apprentice for Wingate Electrical, was one of 14 trainee participants who progressed into the sector, from the 16 who started last years Traineeship.
At the heart of industry
The Build Salford programme itself is delivered on a live construction site in conjunction with Morgan Sindall, a key partner of the Traineeship. Hosting the trainees at their innovative ‘Knowledge Quad’ positioned at the heart of a major construction programme they are delivering in Salford.
Allan Milne, Director of Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement at Salford City College Group, believes this is a vital aspect of the Traineeship: “Morgan Sindall have been exceptional in their support for Build Salford and hosting it at their Knowledge Quad, amid a bustling construction site, provides a unique and inspirational learning experience for the young people.”
Demand for apprentices in the construction sector at Salford City College Group has almost doubled in the last five years, and in September 2021 they started more construction apprentices than ever before. This fantastic achievement was backed up by great success at the national Construction Apprenticeship Awards, where Salford City College Group were named ‘Construction Provider of the Year’ for 2021.
Although Build Salford now has several programmes and schemes operating throughout the year, the main Occupational Traineeship always starts around May, allowing sufficient time for trainees to be recruited into apprenticeships for the traditional September start.
Allan added: “2021 was a great year for the Construction Team at Salford City College Group, and 2022 is looking to be no different. Already, we have committed almost 50% of our apprenticeship spaces to local employers and have a large amount of interest to firm up over the coming weeks. The sector really is buoyant across the region, and it’s fantastic to see so many opportunities for new apprentices.”