Gove drops requirement for employers to train 16-19 year olds

Janet Downs's picture
Most young people stay in some sort of education and training until 18 and this was set to become compulsory. However, Mr Gove has quietly dropped the requirement for employers to train any 16-19 year-olds they take on because he believes the rule deters employers from hiring young people. Obviously the Secretary of State believes the responsibility to train young people is an imposition on employers.

This move removes the statutory requirement for young people to be in education or training up to the age of 19. There has been no debate and little publicity.

If Mr Gove is serious about having a well-trained workforce then no employer should be allowed to hire anyone under the age of 19 without offering them proper training. However, it seems that requiring employers to act responsibly is not one of Mr Gove’s priorities.

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Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 10:30

Channel 4 FactCheck said that the Government pays for training for 16-18 year-olds which makes it odd that employers have been freed from the requirement to offer such training. Mr Gove said it was to free employers from “red tape” – he obviously thinks that an employer having to complete a form to claim Government money is too much of a burden for employers to bear.

Channel 4 FactCheck also discusses the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. The number has risen since the Coalition came to power but it is the over-25s who are taking advantage of these not 16-19 year-olds. And not all of these have been good quality - some have been criticised as being exploitation.

The Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, John Hayes, has set a minimum twelve months for apprenticeships according to FactCheck. However, Gove’s removal of the requirement for employers to offer training to 16-19 year-olds undermines Hayes’s rule. It is not the first time that Gove has undermined what John Hayes is trying to do: Hayes managed to insert a clause in the Education Bill which gave school pupils the right to receive unbiased, comprehensive careers advice. But Gove has allowed no money for this; neither has he required Ofsted to inspect the quality of a school’s careers advice. So careers advice can be as little as access to a website.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 12:20


This is yet another poorly researched post based on a misinterpretation of reality.

First, Gove has not 'dropped the requirement the requirement for employers to train 16-19 year-olds' because there never was any such requirement mooted. The 2008 legislation (which takes force in 2013) did not impose any obligation on employers to offer training themselves once the raising of the participation age came into effect.

What the legislation did do was to impose an obligation upon employers who did not offer in-house training to check that any 16-19 year-olds they employed were properly enrolled in an accredited course before taking up-employment. The plans were vague as to whether such checks had to be maintained frequently. (Was the employer supposed to check every term, every week, every year? Was the employer merely supposed to ensure the young person was enrolled, or was there a presumption that the employer would ensure that the person attended and would keep policing such attendance?) Essentially, employers had a choice: either provide training in-house, or ensure the young people were signed up at the local college.

In order to ensure that employers would comply with this responsibility, a system of fines was planned that would be levied against employers who failed to make the necessary checks. These fines would be imposed by the local authority.

What Gove has scrapped is that system of fines and compulsion.


* Some employers said that if they had to do all the paperwork associated with checking youngsters were enrolled at nearby colleges (let alone monitoring their attendance) and risking fines for any slip-up, then frankly that rather not employ any 16-19 year-olds at all.

* Some employers and some LAs agreed that it would be difficult for them to work collaboratively together to boost youth employment if the LA person was both 'cop' and partner. There would be no trust.

* Some employers felt that cash strapped LAs would be tempted to use the fines as a revenue raising activity and council staff would constantly trying to pick them up for the slightest lapse.

Under the new plan, employers will still have a legal duty to either offer training or to support, encourage and require young people to get it at college. They will still require young people to have enrolled as a condition of granting them employment.

What has changed is that now -

* the burden of responsibility is upon the young person to enrol and stay enrolled and attend training

* the LA is under an obligation to support them to do so

* the employer is under an obligation to support them too

* there will be no red-tape tracking bureaucracy for employers

* there will be, consequently, no need for a fines regime.

Rather sensible, unless of course you think that both adult employers and young trainees need to be chased around all the time by council enforcers.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 13:20

Education Select Committee July 2011: “More and more 16 and 17 year olds are taking part in some form of education or training beyond compulsory school age. That upward trend is welcome; but it will need to continue if we are to have a thriving, competitive economy founded on a highly skilled workforce. We still have large numbers of young people left behind, disengaged from learning and with poor prospects for employment. The Government's response is to proceed with raising the age of compulsory participation,”

Repeat: “The Government’s response is to proceed with raising the age of compulsory participation” ie from 16 year-old to 18 year-old.

It seems that Mr Gove has forgotten what the Government's response was.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 14:14


It's not clear what your point is here. Mr Gove has not forgotten anything.

The "raising of the participation age" is going ahead, as planned and announced.

From 2013, it will become compulsory for a young person to be engaged in some form of accredited education or training until the end of the year in which their seventeenth birthday falls. From 2015, it will then become compulsory to remain in education/training until the age of 18.

Gove has not changed this one iota.

The statute passed in 2008 introduced a phased raising of the participation age always offered young people a range of choices:

* stay at school/college full time

* do an apprenticeship

* get a job where training leading to a proper, accredited vocational qualification was provided at work

* get a job and enroll for part-time/one-day-a-week/out-of-hours education/training leading to an accredited qualification.

That remains the case. By 2015, ALL 16-18 year-olds will be participating in education or training.

Why do you keep implying that is no longer the case?

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 13:24

From TES 6 July 2012 (link provided in top thread):

"Under-18s training requirement won't be enforced"

"Employers will not be penalised if they hire under-18s in jobs without training, education secretary Michael Gove has announced. The decision means that none of the raising the participation age legislation will be enforced, with the penalties against young people and parents having already been dropped. Mr Gove said that the employer duties could act as "a powerful disincentive" to hiring 16- and 17-year-olds at a time of high youth unemployment. But shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said that the decision would reduce the opportunities for young people to work flexibly and combine earning and education. 'It is not enough to simply say you want something to happen - you have to back up these words with real action,' he said."

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 14:23

Again, your actual point is unclear.

Are you saying that most young people will not go to college unless their employers fined if they do not?

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 13:53

Low Pay Commission Report 2012: “In December, the Government published ‘Building Engagement, Building Futures’ for England (Department for Education, 2011), which set out its strategy to maximise the participation of 16-24 year olds in education, training and work. As part of this, the education participation age in England will be gradually increased so that by 2015, young people will be required to participate in learning until their 18th birthday or until they achieve a full Level 3 qualification (the equivalent of two A-levels)”

Did Mr Gove actually read this report? Had he done so he would not have removed the sanctions which enforced employers to comply with the requirement to train young people under the age of 18.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 14:18

Did you actually even read my first contribution above, Janet?

Gove has NOT changed anything except the fine regime that was to have been used to compel employers to make checks that their staff had properly enrolled at an FE college.

Education/training will remain compulsory.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 13:55

Of course, left to their own devices all employers or work providers behave with scrupulous honesty and integrity, don’t they?

A4e loses government contract:

Advertising watchdog bans A4e from calling itself a “social purpose company”

The Low Pay Commission found: “We also found evidence that a substantial proportion of apprentices may not have been paid their minimum wage entitlement…The proportion of 16-17 year olds who are paid below the Youth Development Rate has also increased. In 2007, prior to the recession, fewer than a third of 16-17 year olds were paid less than the Youth Development Rate. By 2011 the proportion had risen to almost 46 per cent.”

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 27/08/2012 - 15:52


Since you have now been given the facts, perhaps you will be kind enough to update the OP, which currently has utter falsehoods stated as facts.

In case you are still having trouble getting your head round it:

1. This move removes the statutory requirement for young people to be in education or training up to the age of 19 (sic).

There has been NO CHANGE to the statutory requirement for young people to remain education/training (which will be up to 18, not 19).

2. Mr Gove has quietly dropped the requirement for employers to train any 16-19 year-olds they take on because he believes the rule deters employers from hiring young people.

This is untrue.

There never was a requirement for employers to 'provide training' for Gove to drop. All he has dropped is a fines regime that threatened employers who failed to carry out paperwork checks.

Gove rightly grasped (not least because employers told him) that if they were so burdened/threatened, they wouldn't offer employment to this category at all.
(Not unreasonable really - If Starbucks happened to employ a youth to serve coffee, should it really be Starbuck's responsibility to ensure the youth attended the ICT course he had enrolled in at the local college because he saw his long-term future being in IT? Starbucks would likely feel it was really nothing to do with them.)

You also state bizarrely:

no employer should be allowed to hire anyone under the age of 19 without offering them proper training.

Well doubtless Starbucks would teach him/her how to male a latte. But that's hardly proper education/training is it?

What you have clearly failed to grasp about this whole thing is that the participation in education and training is not necessarily linked to the employment. You seem to be assuming that a plumbing company will employ a young person and show them the ropes on the job.

But that's not what RPA is about. RPA is designed to equip young people with proper, nationally accredited qualifications: academic or vocational. In some cases, where employment is involved, it may indeed be the case that the trainee gets a job in a hotel and studies catering part time at college or the trainee plumber learns plumbing. But often it won't be like that.
Most prospective employers will be small firms, maybe tiny firms with only two or three employees and the kids may have aspirations of a totally different sort. Who knows, the kid stacking shelves at the Indian corner shop might be studying English Literature for A-Level and turn out to be a poet.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 08:06

Update: for those who have difficulty in deciphering what is meant by 16-19 year-olds. I thought it was clear - the leading post says "up to the age of 19". In this context it means 16 year-olds, 17 year-olds, and 18 year-olds. The Low Pay Commission defined this as up to the 18th birthday. In reality, most pupils leave school or FE in the year in which they become 18.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 08:33

This is the context of the above post: “The Government has changed the law so that all young people will be required to continue in education or training: until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 from summer 2013; and until their 18th birthday from summer 2015.” (DfE information)

I’m sorry if I didn’t make the timescale clear but it's well known that the participation age was rising to 18. The original legislation put two duties on employers: to check that any young person they employ is enrolled in a suitable training course and to allow suitable hours to allow them to take on this training. That is what was meant by employers providing training – ensuring that pupils have access to training which leads to a proper qualification. That doesn't seem an unreasonable requirement.

However, the Government has reneged on this: “We think that employers will encourage young people to train without the need for burdensome new duties and so we have decided not to commence these two duties in 2013.”

“We think…” takes away the obligation on employers to ensure their young employees are in training. It relies entirely on employer goodwill. Yet the Low Pay Commission has shown that goodwill doesn’t mean that all young people get treated fairly. Education and training may theoretically be "compulsory" but an unscrupulous employer can get away without offering the chance for a young person to participate thanks to the Government's relaxation of the rules.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 09:19


Education/training will not be "theoretically" compulsory. It will be ACTUALLY compulsory. The responsibility to enroll and attend is upon the student (and in a moral sense on the parents). The majority of young people will not be employed at all while they do their education/training. Yet you do not seem to be so concerned about them, assuming (rightly) that they will turn up for their classes.

At the moment there is NO legal obligation on employers to support young employees in gaining qualification, yet there are many young people on day-release schemes and so on. No one is compelling these employers.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 14:08

Update: response from trade union Unison. Jon Richards, Unison's senior national officer for education, said that unless there is a clear duty on employers, young people in full-time employment will miss out.

“The government says a duty could deter employers from taking on young people, but gives no evidence to support that. …If you look at Germany for example, training is built in from the very start of employment. But we seem to have a strange view of training as some sort of barrier or an extra burden, instead of being fundamental to what we do. Unless you have resource-based incentives or a duty then employers will opt out, because we don’t have far-sighted employers who understand the value of continued training and continued professional development.”

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 14:16

Further update: TES editorial 25 August 2012:

“British businesses spend less than their overseas counterparts on training, far less on research, and - with a few exceptions - are not exactly world leaders when it comes to apprenticeships.”

While many employers do encourage proper training, many do not. As stated above, the Low Pay Commission found that the number of young people not receiving the Youth Development Rate of pay had increased. And Steve Stewart, chief executive of the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership, said that although the number of young people entering full-time employment without additional training was small, they are some of the most vulnerable young people.

“Every piece of evidence shows that the first people who get hurt in recessions are the unqualified,” he said. “Young people who have few qualifications and who go in to a ‘dead end job’ are the first to suffer.

Unfortunately, Gove's relaxation of the rules governing the access to training by young people aged 16, 17 and 18 (by 2015) means that there will still be young people in dead end jobs.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 28/08/2012 - 15:06

British businesses spend less than their overseas counterparts on training

Indeed so. And one of the main reasons for that is: they don't need to, the Government pays for it.

Gove’s relaxation of the rules governing the access to training by young people aged 16, 17 and 18 (by 2015) means that there will still be young people in dead end jobs.

Only if the young people concern chose to ignore the law that makes education/training compulsory and refuse to sign up for (free) courses.

Why would they do that?

What evidence do you have that young people are that stupid?

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