Three trainees working on woodwork on benches

What is a traineeship?

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. Traineeships are very flexible, and by working closely with an eligible training organisation, you can design a programme which suits your needs and those of the trainee. 

Traineeships were introduced in August 2013 with the aim of getting young people and school leavers into the workplace, and providing them with the tools and training necessary for the building of a successful career, by either progressing onto apprenticeships, other employment and sometimes further education. They are intended for 16 to 24-year-olds. 

When recruiting young people, many employers were finding that many prospective candidates had little or no experience to draw upon to get the job they applied for. This lack of experience includes the application process with covering letters and CVs, to interview techniques, to previous work experience. Furthermore, this also means that some potential recruits have little idea of what is expected of them once they are in the workplace. 

As prospective employees don't have enough experience and information regarding the world of work, a lot of talent is slipping through the net. It might be that some young people may have been unemployed for some time and lack confidence, while others may have only recently left school and just need that little extra help to give them a kickstart to get them into the workplace. The government created traineeships to fill this gap.

What is required from an employer

Traineeships can last up to a maximum of 6 months and have to include:

  • work preparation training provided by the training organisation which can include CV writing, interview preparation, interpersonal skills and local business and sector information
  • English and maths support if required, provided by the training organisation, to improve literacy and numeracy skills
  • a high-quality work experience placement with an employer of at least 100 hours, to provide real insight and experience into the world of work, including:
    • pre-agreed content and objectives between your company, the training organisation and the trainee
    • a structured opportunity for the trainee, matched to their areas of interest and aspoiration, where they engage in purposeful learning activities, rather than observation
    • a placement long enough to allow for the development of new skills and behaviours

In addition to these basic elements, you and the training provider 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. 

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 secure an apprenticeship or employment. 

All training costs are met by government funding, while you can advertise for traineeship opportunities for free on Find a Traineeship. 

How can a traineeship help your company?


As taking on a trainee involves no financial costs for your company - you do not need to provide a wage for your traineeship and the government pays for the trainee's training - having a trainee will help with your ever-increasing workload.


Traineeships are a way for both the employer and trainee to decide whether the role and the company is a good fit. Traineeships are flexible for employers and they can adapt their roles so that young people can fit into the company and benefit more easily. 


By offering traineeships employers can find good young talent earlier and develop their skills to best suit the company‚Äôs needs. Setting up a system whereby the employer regularly recruits a variety of young people and school leavers means you could, over time, build up a pool of high quality young recruits to carry your company forward into the future. Furthermore, in attracting those who live locally, this could give schools and colleges an awareness of your business which means that you'll be able to attract the best talent once again when you have more vacancies. 


If you continue to employ those you originally took on as a trainee, they'll feel more ownership of their role in the workplace and of the company and, as you helped them out originally, they'll be more likely to stay with you in the future. 


Taking on trainees involves mentoring and structured feedback from current staff at regular intervals. Because traineeships are so individualised and flexible, this does not need to be the same member of staff for every trainee. Depending on the size of your company, the number of departments you have and the number of trainees you take on for each area, you can assign different mentors for different trainees. In this way, you are valuing your current employers and helping them gain additional skills which will also help with your staff retention. 

For more information about traineeships, please see the government factsheet.

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