Traineeships: what are they, who can do them, and can trainees become apprentices?

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Who can do a traineeship?

Young people are eligible for a traineeship if they are:

- Eligible to work in England

- Unemployed and have little or no work experience

- Aged 16 to 24

- Qualified below Level 3

Prospective trainees must create an online account here, where they can view traineeships, make applications and view the status of past applications.

If you do not fit any of the above criteria, you can check out apprenticeships, university qualifications, or jobs to see if any of these routes suit you. 

Are traineeships free?

Traineeships shouldn’t cost anything to undertake, and in fact many are actually paid positions.

However, employers are not required to pay trainees for the work placement under the traineeship and traineeships are exempt from the Minimum Wage.

Young people taking part in traineeships will be undertaking education and training and some may qualify for financial support, including the 16-19 Bursary Fund.

The government is encouraging employers to provide trainees with financial support to meet their travel or meal costs, but not all employers will comply.

Traineeships are designed to ensure all trainees get substantial training and experience, while giving employers and providers the flexibility to tailor programmes to the needs of each individual.

Trainees will learn what’s expected of them in the workplace – getting experience of time keeping and teamwork, for example – and develop links with local employers.  The work placement element to the traineeship will also help them broaden their CVs for when they apply for future positions. 

One unique aspect to the traineeship option is that it allows for flexibility: employers and mentors will tailor the training to the trainee’s requirements, so they can get the most out of the time on their programme.

What is the difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship?

While there are some similarities between apprenticeships and traineeships  - both are designed mostly for young people, combining work with training - they are very distinct programmes.

Traineeships are designed to help people who want to move into an apprenticeship or a job. Unlike apprentices, trainees don’t yet have some essential skills like English and maths, or have limited work experience. The traineeship aims to provide them with these.

Traineeships last anything up to a maximum of six months, unlike apprenticeships, which go on for a number of years.

Traineeships may also be unpaid (it is left up to the employer to make that decision) and are not subject to minimum wage laws, unlike apprenticeships, which legally must be paid and meet the Apprentice National Minimum Wage. Those doing a traineeship will either still be in education, or may qualify for the 16-19 bursary fund. 

The government is encouraging employers to provide trainees with financial support to meet their travel or meal costs, but not all employers will comply.

Traineeships are specifically designed for 16 - 24 year olds, whereas apprenticeships can be taken at any age. 

Can trainees become apprentices? 

Trainees can definitely go on to undertake apprenticeships, as well as getting jobs or going to university.

In fact, the whole point of a traineeship is to prepare young people for the next step – and for some this will be an Intermediate Apprenticeship.

A traineeship will prepare young people for the next step in three ways:

- A high-quality work experience placement with an employer.

- Work preparation training, provided by the training organisation.

- English and maths support, if required.

If the host company is looking for apprentices or new employees, trainees may also be able to interview for these at the end of their traineeship, from the informed position of having worked for the company already. 

Trainees will learn what’s expected of them in the workplace – getting experience of time keeping and teamwork, for example – and develop links with local employers.  The work placement element to the traineeship will also help them broaden their CVs for when they apply for future positions. 

To be eligible for a traineeship, applicants should be aged 16-24 and qualified below Level 3. Those wanting to find a programme should visit www.gov.uk/find-traineeship. 

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