The government has announced it will scrap its Traineeship Programme that has been running for nearly a decade due to low take-up.
The learning disability charity Mencap have described the decision as “devastating”, saying it will now be even harder for people with learning disabilities to access paid work.
Elements of the Traineeship Programme will be accessible through different avenues
In a statement, Robert Halfon, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, said the Traineeship Programme would become “integrated” with the 16-19 study programme and adult education provision from 1 August 2023.
This means the Department for Education will not longer fund the delivery of Traineeships through a standalone programme. However, it will continue to fund elements of the programme for 16-19-year-olds through the national 16-19 study programme, and for adults through the adult education budget.
The decision to scrap the programme was made due to low national take-up. In 2020/21, 17,400 took part in the programme, and in 21/22, 15,500 people took part in the programme.
Mr Halfon says the numbers are “small” for a nationally administered programme. “It is right, therefore, that we focus our offer on our mainstream provision,” he said.
He says the change will “make it easier” for young people and employers to navigate the skills offer, and it will also “enable providers to better tailor their programmes to deliver the key skills needed to drive growth in local communities”.
People with learning disabilities deserve to have the same access to “meaningful paid work” as everyone else
Mark Capper, Head of Development (Lifestyle and Work) at Mencap said: “The news that the Government will be scrapping the Traineeship Programme is devastating to organisations like Mencap. We know that there is already a lack of suitable training provision for people with a learning disability and the removal of these traineeships will only add to the challenge.
“Mencap has been delivering traineeships for the past five years, which have helped support hundreds of people with a learning disability, learning difficulty or autism, into paid work. People accessing our programme have tended to find difficulty accessing work through mainstream processes, so the support we’ve given them – providing that stepping stone into work – has been a huge success; not only from an employee perspective, but we’ve also seen strong demand from employers too.
“Without programmes such as these, Mencap’s vision of a world where people with a learning disability have the same access to meaningful paid work as everyone else, will only be made more distant.”