Traineeships : The Mythbusting Guide for Employers

This mythbusting guide is from the team at the Department for Education, there is a downloadable version here.

A traineeship is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. The full programme can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, though most traineeships last for less than 6 months. Your business needs to be able to offer at least 70 hours of a safe, meaningful, and high‑quality work experience placement. Traineeships help 16 to 24 year olds ‑ or 25 year olds with an education, health and care (EHC) plan ‑ get ready for an apprenticeship or job if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience.

1:  ”Traineeships are just a work experience placement programme that do not lead to jobs.”

FACT: The Traineeship Impact Evaluation (published June 2019), found that: – 75% of trainees started in further learning, employment or an apprenticeship within 12 months of starting the traineeship.

2: ”Traineeships are only for young people with significant barriers to learning and work.” 

That is not true, traineeships are: – for young people who just need a little help to become employment ready or given a chance to show an employer what they can do. – not intended for young people with significant barriers to work or study; there are other funded programmes available to prepare young people to be ready for a traineeship

3: ”There are few benefits to employers in offering traineeship opportunities.”

That is not true, a traineeship helps you:

  • prepare a young person age 16‑24 (25 with an EHCP) for specific apprenticeship or employment roles in your business
  • get to know and work with a young person to see if they’re right for an apprenticeship or job in your business
  • give your current employees direct experience in training and mentoring
  • find more flexible ways to offer a work placement
  • to help support young people into meaningful work
  • increase your capacity and productivity

FACT: Employers who make new work placement opportunities available may also receive an incentive payment of £1000 per learner, for up to 10 learners per region, applies to work placements delivered between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021. More guidance and how to claim is available here (please see Employer Incentive Payments’ section in the contents along with Annexes D-G)

4: ”Traineeships are unpaid and there is no financial help available for trainees.”

FACT: Traineeships are of benefit to young people who need to develop their work skills. To support those from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the programme, trainees may be eligible for financial support.

This could be from their Jobcentre if they are receiving benefits, or through their training provider including support for:

  • travel and meal costs
  • childcare costs
  • disability support

5: ”I am not allowed to pay a traineeship learner.” 

There is no requirement to pay trainees for their time on a work placement because they are undertaking training and are not employed, however it is optional whether you choose to pay the young person or help cover their expenses such as travel and subsistence.

6: ”I have to be able to offer a job at the end of a traineeship work placement.”

That is not true. We hope there can be a real job interview for an apprenticeship or other post but recognise this is not always possible. We would expect you to hold a formal exit interview instead to help the young person to practise and prepare for future opportunities. And either way to give meaningful written feedback reflecting on the time spent on the placement to help the young person improve their performance.

7: ”Having a young person alongside staff who are being paid to do similar things feels uncomfortable.”

Remember that a traineeship is a course to which you are contributing a work experience placement. It is not a job with training like an Apprenticeship. The young person will also spend time with a training provider on a programme tailored to their needs which might include interview skills, confidence-building, Maths, English and digital skills or a vocational qualification, all of which is fully funded for them. You can opt to pay them an allowance or cover their expenses while on a placement with you.

More information on traineeships:

To register and apply for the employer incentive payments click here.

Contact the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) on or 0800 015 0600 for advice and support on Traineeships.

The NAS can help you set up a Traineeship and put it on Find a traineeship. You can contact a local training provider directly to design a Traineeship. They will publicise the Traineeship for you.

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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