What is it?
RPA was introduced in the Education and Skills Act 2008 and reinforced by the Coalition Government in the 2010 Schools White Paper.
The underlying premise is that by staying in learning past the age of 16, young people will gain the skills, experience and qualifications to help them build a successful working life for themselves with greater choice of career path. In addition, young people will also contribute further to the economic wellbeing and skills-needs of the UK and Global economy.
What does it mean?
It means that young people who complete their Year 11 education in or after 2014 will have to continue in learning until at least their 18 birthday.
What are their options?
They may choose to:
- Stay at School, go to a College or Sixth Form and study A Levels or other full time courses
- Get a job and take a work related course alongside it such as an OCR National, BTEC, City and Guilds or other accredited course
- Be Self Employed but they would also need to do some accredited learning or training course
- Volunteer for 20 hours or more but would need to do some accredited learning alongside it, offered by the organisation or independent of it
- Do an Apprenticeship or other accredited training course
- Young people have to be active in some way, they can’t do nothing; the aim of RPA is to engage young people and provide them with further skills, experience and qualifications. In most cases young people are not eligible to claim benefits at this point
What can parents do?
Parents play a key role in talking to their children about the social and economic benefits of staying in education or training after the age of 16. This may include discussing with them which route may be best for them and to help them research the different options, supporting them in the process.
What does this mean for Employers?
If you employ a young person aged 16-17 for 20 or more hours a week, you are required to provide accredited training on site or agree reasonable hours of work with the young person so that they can access this elsewhere. If not offering it yourselves, you should obtain evidence that the young person is enrolled on an accredited course; this may be a letter from a Training Provider.
What about Organisations offering volunteering placements?
If a young person aged 16-17 is volunteering with your organisation for 20 or more hours a week, you are required to assist in ensuring that the young person accesses accredited training either on your site or elsewhere. This would include negotiating flexible hours to enable this to take place. The organisation also has a responsibility to obtain evidence that the young person is enrolled on an accredited course: for example in the form of a letter from a training provider.