Traineeships – What They Are And Why They Can Be Beneficial For Employers

Traineeships are the new kid on the block when it comes to government initiatives. Starting last year in August 2013, traineeships are aimed at 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. Traineeships are aimed at young people between the ages of 16 and 24 years old.

Many employers have been finding that when they are doing their recruitment for young people, many of them have little or no experience to draw upon to get the job they applied for. This can be right from the application process with covering letters and CVs, to interview techniques, to previous work experience. This also means that some potential young recruits have little idea of what is expected of them once they are in the workplace.

As an employer looking to recruit staff to carry your company forward in the future, you will no doubt realise that much of the United Kingdom’s best young talent is slipping through the net because of this. Some young people may have been unemployed for some time and are on benefits 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.

That’s what government traineeships are all about and your company could benefit by adopting traineeships as a part of your overall recruitment strategy.

Traineeships: What is expected of you as an employer?

First of all, if you did want to integrate traineeships into your company’s recruitment strategy, let’s take a brief look at what would be expected of you as an employer:

Pre-agreed structured programme lasting at least 6 weeks up to a maximum of 5 months

On providing a young person with a work placement as part of their traineeship, you, the trainee and the training provider you are working with will design an individual, structured programme that best suits the needs of the trainee and your business. There will also be a written agreement outlining this training with dates for when feedback will be given.

Structured opportunity and purposeful activities

Traineeships are all about providing purposeful activities (rather than merely observing other staff members) for school leavers and young people do further prepare them for the workplace. If your company offers apprenticeships, the activities you opportunities and activities you offer could help towards progressing the trainee from traineeship to a place on your apprenticeship programme.

Long enough placement to develop new skills

The length of the placement will be discussed at the beginning between you, the training provider and the trainee and must be long enough so that the trainee can come out at the end with new, practical skills that allow them to develop in the workplace.

Traineeships provide a mentor and feedback

As a company, you would provide a designated mentor for the trainee. This mentor will give regular, structured feedback. Traineeships are designed to be flexible so the length of the traineeship can be extended or shortened depending on how your trainee is progressing.

Traineeships can include the start of a vocational qualification

If it is suitable for the young person, you can assist them in the beginning of a vocational qualification. This would be especially useful if you are hoping to later transfer your trainee from traineeships to your apprenticeships programmes.

Traineeships offer the trainee a meaningful exit

After the traineeship is complete, ideally, you will be in a position to interview the trainee and offer placements on apprenticeships or other jobs within your company. However, it is not essential that you have these vacancies. If you have no vacant jobs or apprenticeships, you will provide the trainee with a meaningful exit interview, professional references and put them in touch with relevant companies and organisations where apprenticeships or other work can be found.

What Are The Advantages For Employers Who Provide Traineeships?

So, if your company does offer traineeships, what’s in it for you? Why go to the bother? Let’s take a look:

There is no financial cost for you or your company

Well one advantage of of offering traineeships is they are government funded. Government funded traineeships mean there is no financial cost for your company as they pay for the training and you can even advertise your traineeship vacancies for free on the website. There are no wages for traineeships but you are strongly encouraged to help trainees out by helping with travel expenses and food costs. Being in a position to recruit the best staff can be a costly affair. Adding traineeships to your recruitment strategy can be a good financial investment for the future.

Providing traineeships means you will be in good company

Large multinational companies such as Siemens and Virgin have embraced traineeships as they see them as a fantastic way of harnessing young talent. Some companies have assessment centres for their apprenticeships and some young people and school leavers narrowly miss out on places but don’t return to try again for a placement. This is the talent that was slipping through the net. Offering traineeships to those young people means the company can prepare them for apprenticeships and for the workplace and not miss out on that talent.

Traineeships provide an opportunity for both the employer and the trainee to decide if this is the right placement

Apprenticeships are a commitment for both the employer and the apprentice and traineeships provide a means whereby the employer and the trainee can make a decision as to whether the role and the company is a best fit for them. Traineeships are flexible for employers can adapt roles so that young people can fit into the company and benefit it more easily. Government traineeships can be a win win situation both for school leavers and employers and integrating them into your recruitment strategy can improve staff retention.

Traineeships mean employers could get the pick of the best young talent

All employers want to find the best staff for their businesses and they want to retain that staff. Some school leavers may just need a bit of practical work experience while others may have been unemployed for some time and could have low confidence as a result. Of course, this doesn’t mean they couldn’t be a valuable asset to your business. By offering traineeships to young people and school leavers, employers can find good young talent earlier and develop their skills to best suit the company’s 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.

Traineeships are likely to attract young people and school leavers from the local vicinty and this can be good for staff retention

By setting up traineeships within your company school leavers and young people who live locally can benefit from this and this in turn will benefit your company. By using traineeships in your recruitment strategy, rather than outsourcing or recruiting staff from outside the local area, traineeships give you the opportunity, as an employer, to take a good look at what potential talent is available within your local area.

This could benefit your company in various ways. First of all, school leavers and young people who live locally are likely to have some awareness of your business – especially if you are a prominent employer within your local community – and will therefore have a basic idea of what you are about.

Recruiting locally by means of traineeships also means your new young trainees may feel more ownershşp of their post rather than them just entering a random workplace where they have no real idea of your ethos. Whether you are a big firm or a small firm, it’s likely that school leavers and young people will at least have heard of you and will be able to relate to you and your business more easily.

If you can, in turn, develop their skills and offer them mentoring and support as part of the government traineeships initiative, then this means you could build up a young and loyal staff that have been recruited locally. In the long term, this might well be a perfect solution to your staff retention problems. Young people who enter your company via traineeships and then progress to apprenticeships or other jobs where they are given training and opportunities to attain qualifications, are far more likely to stick around in the future, thus benefitting your firm considerably.

Government traineeships can also benefit your existing team of staff as well as your new young recruits

A further advantage to employers who choose to add government traineeships to their recruitment strategy is the extra benefits to the staff who already work there.

When you offer young people and school leavers the opportunity to do traineeships within your company, you need to assign a mentor to those people to give them support and structured feedback at regular intervals. These mentors will typically be a member of your existing staff and 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.

What does this mean for your company? It means that not only are you choosing to fulfil social responsibilities by providing government traineeships and opportunities for school leavers and young people, but you are also creating opportunities for your existing staff to develop or improve their mentoring and coaching skills. Again, adding traineeships to your recruitment strategy can be a win win situation as you recruit the best staff via traineeships and also improve your staff retention by valuing your existing team in allowing them to add new mentoring skills or develop existing ones. When staff feel valued, they are more likely to stick around in the future and this helps in the future of your firm.

Traineeships are a stepping stone for both young people and your firm

As an employer, you naturally want to recruit the best staff and retain them. While it is not essential that traineeships lead on to apprenticeships, traineeships and apprenticeships do go hand in hand. If you can find and develop the best young people to carry your business forward, adding traineeships to your recruitment strategy alongside your other strategies could well build your company more than you could have imagined. Also, at the same time, you are giving opportunities to school leavers and young people that they may never have had the chance to act upon before traineeships came into fruition.

If you are not already taking advantage of apprenticeships in your recruitment strategy, take a look at a previous E4S blog post about how employers can benefit from implementing apprenticeship and school leaver programmes.

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