Traineeships: Growing young talent to enrich the NHS

Young delegates

What are traineeships?

Traineeships are programmes for young people who are motivated but not yet ready for the apprenticeship or job they wish to apply for. They are designed to provide the skills, confidence and attitudes that young people need to thrive in the workplace.

At the core of the programme is a work experience placement to help trainees become ready for the world of work. Traineeships are delivered by training providers and the cost of the training is met by government funding. Employers work with providers to design a programme that meets their needs and can include things such as behaviours expected in the workplace, and support to achieve a standard of English and maths.

Traineeship programmes can last from six weeks to one year, although most will last for six months or less, but should ideally be delivered over the maximum period of six months to ensure the trainees can experience real working environments and situations.

Among the range of measures announced in July 2020 to support young people into jobs and apprenticeships, businesses will receive a £1,000 bonus payment from the government for every trainee they offer a work experience placement to. More guidance will follow on this.

Who are they for?

Traineeships are for 16 to 24-years old, or 25-year-olds with an education, health and care (EHC) plan. Trainees must be:

  • eligible to work in England
  • have little or no work experience but are motivated to work
  • are qualified below level three but deemed capable of reaching a point where they are employable within six months.

Traineeships have been designed to be flexible, so young people who are claiming benefits can participate on a full-time basis and still maintain their entitlement to benefits as necessary.
Traineeships should not be offered to those already in employment or people who require a great deal of additional support or resources to prepare them for work.

The benefit for employers

Traineeships are government funded and allow employers to design the content and delivery to suits both the needs of their business and the needs of their trainees. When used as part of a workforce strategy, traineeships can complement traditional workforce supply routes and help employers to become more accessible and inclusive.

Employers who make new work placement opportunities available for trainees may receive an incentive payment of £1000 per learner, for up to 10 learners. More guidance will follow on this new incentive.

The programmes are an ideal stepping stone into an apprenticeship or employment and have proved to be particularly valuable for people with learning disabilities or difficulties. They also offer an opportunity for current employees looking to gain experience in training and mentoring.

While there is guidance that sets out what is expected from a traineeship, employers and education providers are encouraged to work together to design the core elements of the programme, such as the days the trainees work and how the programme will be delivered.

Traineeships are flexible so can be adjusted as the programme progresses to make sure the employer and the trainee get the most out of it. For example, NHS organisations may wish to showcase the variety of careers they have available and build this into the work experience element.

Providing a quality traineeship

The purpose of a traineeship programme is to provide the trainee with a meaningful, high-quality work experience to develop the appropriate skills for employment. By the end of the programme, the trainee should be ready to start an apprenticeship or job and have the skills, knowledge, confidence, attitudes and behaviours that will help them to succeed in future roles.

The programme content can be designed to include work preparation training and help with English and maths skills if necessary. The content can also include optional technical and professional qualifications that will help the learner move into work.

While employers are not required to pay the young person, they can offer support with expenses such as transport and meals.

The training provider should assess the needs of the trainee to see if they need any pre-employment training before starting the work experience. Employers should provide at least 70 hours of work experience, but no more than 240 hours for benefit claimants.

At the end of the programme, trainees should be offered an interview if a job or an apprenticeship is available. If no job or apprenticeship opportunity exists, the trainee should have an exit interview with meaningful written feedback.

Getting started

There is a range of resources and guidance available to help employers offer a good quality work experience and attract and support young people into employment opportunities.

Further advice and support on how to deliver work experience for people with learning difficulties or disabilities can be found at:

Related resources

  • Training routes into the NHS. This infographic sets out the variety of routes available to support your talent pipelines and workforce supply.
  • ThinkFuture. This web section provides a range of resources, including three digital toolkits aimed at health service providers wishing to bring more young people into their workforce.
  • Apprenticeships for all. Find out more about the benefits of supporting people with learning difficulties and disabilities into apprenticeships.
  • Values-based recruitment. Web pages with information and resources, including a behaviour framework to help employers in the NHS recruit staff with values that fit with their organisation.

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