Traineeships: re-branding, privatising and lengthening a workfare scheme

traineeshipsThis August will see the start of yet another role out of a scheme of unpaid labour aimed at the poorest. “Traineeships” are the grand plan of Skills Minister Matthew Hancock to provide free workers to companies for up to 5 months at a time to help us “secure an apprenticeship” afterwards ( which themselves have a minimum wage of only £2.65 an hour!). Although starting with 16-19 year olds it will eventually involve people up to the age of 24.

The government state they want traineeships to “simplify the system” for companies and “bring together, or cease, other similar programmes”. Although they do not say which schemes the traineeships will replace, it is most similar to the current work experience scheme. However, traineeships will not just be restricted to those on JSA, but also school kids when the compulsory age of education moves up to 18.

Like with the work experience scheme the placements can be with companies. However, whereas the Work Experience scheme placements were 2-8 weeks, with traineeships the length will more than double to 6-22 weeks (5 months). This will make it easier for companies to exploit us as they won’t have to train new people as often.

In total traineeships are 6 months long, with time available for education and training. However, with the schemes being organised by contracted providers (the same set up as the Work Programme and Mandatory Work Activity eg. A4e, Seetec ….. ) or even by companies themselves (such as Tescos) the quality of any education or training will most likely be poor. Furthermore this set up will probably lead to providers paying companies and charities money to take on unpaid staff as is currently seen with the Mandatory Work Activity scheme and the replacement of jobs by unpaid placements seen with the Work Experience scheme could worsen as profit is made out of providing placements.

The Department of Works and Pensions make no mention of the compulsory or otherwise nature of the scheme. But seeing as the work experience scheme is just workfare with added spin, with people still being bullied onto the scheme with little knowledge of their right to refuse, or face increased pressure (sometimes through the threat of other workfare schemes) if they do refuse, it is likely the traineeships will amount to yet another workfare scheme.

The government are saying this will simplify the current array of free worker schemes that companies have to choose from. They forget to mention how traineeships will double the length of time we are forced to work for nothing and boost the profits of the likes of A4e and Tescos.


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On the UJ website I recently spotted an 'apprenticeship' for Farmfoods. Why on earth do you need an apprenticeship for Farmfoods? This is just another example of what your article describes - jobs that are already paying pitifully low wages are being replaced by pretend, lame schemes designed purely to reduce costs for the employer while ensuring poverty for whatever poor soul ends up on them. Traineeships are clearly an extension of workfare and bullying people into working for too little to live on. Any organisation that joins these schemes deserves to be boycotted and have their name blackened online and off.

Gary Donaldson

Tesco have already seen falling profits due to being Boycotted, let them carry on and the profits will continue to fall.

Birmingham Trades Council » Day 2: Stop Traineeships – workfare for young people

[...] a fairly new scheme that targets 16-24 year olds with more unpaid work. Traineeships involve a work placement of up to [...]