Traineeship Scheme - How To Use

By Amanda Beattie
22 Feb 2021

What is a traineeship?

Traineeships, introduced in 2013, offer education, training, and work experience to young people. Their purpose is to give skills and experiences that employers look for in job applicants to individuals. Traineeships involve unpaid work placements, which makes them different from apprenticeships.

In July 2020, the Government announced that it would be reforming and expanding the traineeships programme. The aim was to help young people in England, regardless of background, who are most at risk of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. This new scheme opened in September 2020.

Eligibility for undertaking a traineeship

The core target group for traineeships in 2020 to 2021 are those who:

  • are not employed and have little work experience but would like the opportunity to gain these key skills
  • are aged between 16-24 and have up to, and including, a full Level 3 qualification (equivalent to A-Level qualifications)
  • have a reasonable chance, based on the employer’s belief, of getting into employment within 6 months of completing the traineeship.

What do traineeships provide?

They help young people acquire skills and confidence to get, and sustain, employment opportunities in the future. In 2021, the Government has pledged 30,000 new traineeships in England.

From September 2020, traineeships should involve classroom-based tuition in various subjects, including:

  • Maths
  • English
  • Digital skills
  • CV writing

This should be coupled this with 70 hours (minimum) of unpaid work experience placements. It’s up to you to provide this to trainees.

Becoming a traineeship employer

If you are looking to offer these placements for the first time you must work in collaboration with training providers. You can contact these providers directly. However, if you need extra support, you can receive assistance from the National Apprenticeship Service. A full list of training providers is available on the government website.

You should work together to ensure that the work offered by provides the experience needed. It should help young people develop their employability skills. You can tailor this to each young person alongside other elements of the traineeship.

How the work placement will be structured should be confirmed before a traineeship is offered. Once a plan is in place for the traineeship, you can advertise it through the government website.

Prior to this, the training provider will give the trainee preparation training. This may include direct training on the expected role during the placement. This will include a full rundown of all the things you need to provide as an employer, such as:

  • A safe, meaningful and high-quality work experience
  • A minimum of 70 hours of work experience - but no more than 240 hours for benefit claimants - over the duration of the traineeship (maximum of one year) and as agreed with the traineeship provider
  • Constructive feedback and advice to the trainee
  • An interview for an apprenticeship or job in the business at the end of the traineeship if one is available
  • An exit interview at the end of the traineeship with meaningful written feedback if no job is available.

Employer incentive grant

Employers can apply for a £1000 traineeship incentive grant under a new initiative. You must deliver a 70-hour minimum work experience placement as part of the programme to receive this. It is available from 1 September 2020 up to, and including, 31 July 2021.

You can take on as many trainees as you wish. But keep in mind that you will only be able to claim a grant of up to a maximum of 10 incentive payments. Multi-sited employers who wish to offer traineeships across England can do so. You may claim the £1000 grant per trainee, up to a maximum of 10 trainees.

This cash incentive can also be claimed for all work placements that have been completed since 1 September 2020. This means that the placement could have begun prior to this date.

Employers can claim the incentive by sending an application via the Government’s website after each placement has been completed. Claims must be made by 21 October 2021. This is also the deadline for employers to send details of the outcome of the traineeships they completed by 31 July 2021.

Although employers have until 21 October 2021 to make this claim, it is strongly advised that they do so as soon as the placement is finished.

Employment status of a trainee

Traineeships are meant to help young people develop the skills they need for sustainable employment. This means that individuals on placement are not considered employees, workers, or apprentices. Employers are therefore not under any legal obligation to pay their trainees for the work experience hours. This means they are exempt from National Minimum Wage rules.

Duration and working hours

The Government has explained that the duration of a traineeship will depend on the participant. They can last between 6 weeks and 12 months. Most traineeships are expected to be completed within 6 months. However, for those starting a traineeship in 2020-2021, up to 12 months will be allowed. The most common reason to do this is to accommodate learners who are further away from the labour market or who require further support.

Before you arrange to offer a traineeship placement, in collaboration with a training provider, consider whether it’s right for your organisation. Can you offer the experience young people require to develop their employability skills?

Interviewing and feedback

You should provide trainees with a real interview where an apprenticeship or other work is available. If this isn’t possible, conduct formal exit interviews with trainees to give them the necessary experience and practice for the future. Provide constructive written feedback about their time on the placement.

Written feedback on how the traineeship went should also be provided to trainees who go on to start an apprenticeship or other work.

Expert support

If you have further questions regarding traineeships, recruitment, or any other HR issue, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.