Traineeships: The Basics

What is a traineeship?

Traineeships last anything up to a maximum of six months depending on the needs of the individual and include:

1. A meaningful, high quality, work experience placement of at least 100 hours with an employer, to provide real insight and experience into the world of work.

2. Work preparation training delivered by a training organisation which can include CV writing, interview preparation, interpersonal skills and local business and sector information.

3. English and maths support from a training organisation to improve young people’s literacy and numeracy skills if required.

In addition to these basic elements, the employer and the training organisation can add flexible additional content to meet the needs of your business and the local labour market; which could include a relevant, industry specific vocational qualification. All training costs are met by government funding. 

A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for.


What government support is available?

With traineeships, employers have the opportunity to help build a pool of high quality future recruits for your sector. 

  • Employers are at the heart of traineeships offering high quality work experience placements in partnership with a trusted training organisation. This flexible approach means traineeships are tailored to the needs of your business and the individual.
  • Training organisations have a key role in coordinating the traineeship, engaging local employers to offer the work experience placements and encourage young people to participate.
  • Delivering training, providing in work support, as well as support beyond the duration of the traineeship can all be delivered by the training organisation.
  • The National Apprenticeship Service also offers free, impartial advice andsupport to employers. 

What are the employer responsibilities?

You will need to commit to a high quality work experience placement, lasting at least 100*hours over a maximum of 6 months. This should include: 

  • Pre-agreed content and objectives between your company, the training organisation and the trainee.
  • A structured opportunity for the young person, matched to their areas of interest and aspiration, where they engage in purposeful learning activities rather than observation.
  • The work experience placement should be long enough to allow for the development of new skills and behaviours.
  • Trainees should receive coaching and training from an identified mentor in the business, receiving regular constructive feedback.
  • Employers are not required to pay young people taking part in traineeships but are encouraged to support trainees with expenses such as transport and meals.

Once the young person has finished their traineeship with your company, you will be required to offer:

  • Ideally, an interview for a position within your business if one is available. If no apprenticeship or job opportunity exists within your business, provide an exit interview

Together with meaningful written feedback to help them to secure an apprenticeship or employment. 

*If the young person is claiming unemployment benefits, please ensure you liaise with your training organisation regarding work experience placement duration.

Traineeships – why do we need them?

Developed in response to business needs, traineeships can help employers build the workforce

Required for business success:

  • According to UKCES, just 24% of employers recruited young people directly from education in the past 2–3 years.
  • Traineeships give employers the opportunity to help build a pool of high quality new recruits for their sector.
  • More than half of employers are aware of weaknesses in the core skills of at least some of their employees in literacy (55%) and numeracy (51%), with a third (35%) reporting that they have had to provide remedial training for young people joining them from school or college.
  • All young people undertaking a traineeship will be required to study English and maths. Young people aged 19-24 and possessing GCSE A*-C in English and/or maths or hold a functional skills qualification at Level 2* will not be required to undertake further study in these subjects.
  • Mid-sized employers (25–199 staff) have reported an increase in skill shortage vacancies since 2009.

Traineeships will help combat this problem by providing young people with the skills businesses need.

*A full Level 2 qualification is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at Grades A*–C and a full Level 3 qualification is equivalent to 2 or more ‘A’ level passes.