The response of some further education colleges to youth training under the new training initiative
Using the results of postal surveys of teachers and trainees as well as case studies the provision for the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) during 1983/4 made by a representative sample of Further Education colleges is examined. The policy intentions of governmental and quasi-government bodies are placed in their political context, focussing on the curricular policies of the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) and the Further Education Unit (FEU). The policy of the government and the MSC to change the image of youth training measures from that of a short-term social support measures (current under the Youth Opportunities Programme) to one of a permanent national training scheme is judged to have had a large measure of success. YTS in the year concerned was integrated with existing examination and apprenticeship structures. However, a streaming process according to educational level is identified, whereby lower stream trainees on college based courses receive a student-centred curriculum to a greater degree than trainees on employer based YTS courses. The influence of the FEU, struggling to preserve a liberal educational philosophy in vocational preparation, is judged to have more relevance for the (minority) lower stream courses. It is suggested that if the FEU wishes to extend its influence to the rest of YTS it will have to examine how its educational philosophy may be reconciled with the teaching style associated with traditional examination courses in FE, which have generally been adapted for YTS by teachers. The views of trainees lend justification to the MSC policy of promoting work-based learning, since trainees bring to YTS a perspective that places great value on experiences that seem like, or may lead to, real work. However, several aspects of MSC policy designed to promote work-based learning are judged to have failed, and an examination of employers' provision is recommended.