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Alternatives to apprenticeships

Traineeship delivery changes

How traineeships are delivered is changing from 1 August 2023. The last start date for traineeships under the current programme is 31 July 2023. Find out more about the traineeship delivery changes.

Traineeships and T Levels are a great alternative for young people who may not be ready for an apprenticeship.


T Levels have been created for 16-18 year olds as an A level alternative. They are two year courses which offer classroom based learning alongside an industry placement and are the equivalent of 3 A levels. 

T Levels have been created in collaboration with employers and businesses so that their content meets industry needs and prepares the student for work, further training or study.

To find out more about T Levels, you can: 

What is a traineeship?

Traineeships are a great option for young people aged between 16 and 24 (or 25 for individuals with an education and health care plan),  who don’t have the skills or experience to take on a job or apprenticeship. 

Traineeships act as a skills development programme, where you complete an unpaid work placement alongside a training course. 

They can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year (although most last up to 6 months) and are designed to help prepare you for work or an apprenticeship.

If you already have some work experience, you may be ready for an apprenticeship

How traineeships work 

The core elements of a traineeship include:

  • completion of a quality work placement of at least 70 hours with a local employer
  • training to ensure the trainee is equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the placement
  • English, maths and digital support (where required) 
  • CV and application support 
  • an exit interview at the end of the placement which provides written feedback about the trainees performance

The training provider will arrange a work placement with an employer, usually a minimum of 70 hours. The employer and training provider then work together to create an individual plan for the trainee, providing additional work preparation prior to the placement. 

Who can apply 

You can apply for a traineeship if you are:

Funding a traineeship

Traineeships are unpaid because they are a work experience placement, not a job. 

Employers are encouraged to support trainees with their expenses, such as transport and meals and some employers may be eligible to claim an employer incentive payment of £1000 per trainee (for up to 10 trainees per region) from the government to cover the costs of the placement. 

Depending on the trainee’s circumstances, they may be eligible for support with education related costs and the training provider can support with this. 

If the trainee receives benefits, the trainee will still receive these during the traineeship, but trainees are encouraged to speak to their work coach about personal circumstances.

Trainees may also be eligible for the 16 to 19 bursary fund

Traineeship benefits

Traineeships offer great opportunities for young people who have little or no work experience. 

They can enhance your employability by providing guidance, skills and experience in your chosen area of interest. 

Trainees will also gain: 

  • techniques in writing a CV and job applications
  • an understanding of what it is like to work for an employer 
  • transferable skills and knowledge from other employees working in their sector of interest 
  • increased confidence and self-esteem
  • valuable work experience in a supportive environment 
  • opportunities to interview for a permanent role if a vacancy becomes available 
  • an understanding of what employers are looking for 
  • an opportunity to improve literacy, numeracy and digital skills 
  • valuable exit interview feedback to prepare for future job applications

Future prospects for trainees

Traineeships have proved to bridge the gap between education and employment for many young people. 

Research shows that: 

  • 66% of trainees progressed to positive destinations within 6 months 
  • 75% of trainees started further learning, employment or an apprenticeship within 12 months of starting a traineeship 
  • 83% of trainees found the programme helped improve their chances for the future 

Next steps 

At the end of the work placement, the trainee will participate in an exit interview with the employer. This provides the trainee with an opportunity to practice their interview skills and gain valuable feedback which will assist with future applications. 

Although there is no guarantee that a trainee will be offered a permanent position with the employer after completing the placement, training providers work closely with the trainee to assist them in applying for further opportunities. 

GOV.UK 16 to 24 year olds

Find a traineeship

Traineeships can start at any time of the year, so it's useful to know where to look for opportunities.

There are a few options for finding a traineeship opportunity, which include:

  • visit find a traineeship for current vacancies
  • speak to a local college or training provider to discuss opportunities
  • for individuals aged 16-18, speak to the school or college adviser for advice
  • for individuals aged 18 or over, speak to a JobCentre adviser or work coach
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A guide to traineeships

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