High quality Traineeships can help young people gain the skills required to undertake an Apprenticeship or find secure employment.

The sole focus of a Traineeship should be on providing a learning opportunity that supports a young person make the transition into work. In this respect, it is different from an apprenticeship, where the focus is on learning and working.

The government has not made it a requirement that Trainees are paid an allowance or wage. Therefore, unions can play an important role in making sure that Trainees are paid where they undertake work of a similar value to other employees.

Certain criteria will need to be met to ensure that Traineeships are high quality. Without effective safeguards and union involvement poor quality Traineeships could lead to the exploitation of young people or existing workers being displaced from their jobs.

Unionlearn's "TUC Model Traineeships Charter" (pdf) has been written to help unions negotiate for high quality traineeships that safeguard against the exploitation of young people. The charter calls for consideration of a number of issues, including: 

  • Duration of work experience placements.
  • Job displacement.
  • Content of a Traineeships Framework.
  • Guaranteed Interview for an Apprenticeship / Employment.
  • Pay.
  • Health and Safety of Trainees.
  • Bargaining ideas for union reps.

In February 2013, the TUC responded to a discussion paper on traineeships, issued by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. The response highlighted three key points:

  • Traineeships must be high quality. In particular, the work experience placements must provide young people with skills which match their aspirations.
  • Trainees should not be used to displace existing workers.
  • Where Trainees undertake work and are not simply gaining experience, they must be paid.

Read the TUC's response to the Traineeship discussion paper (pdf).