Five reasons to take on a trainee

Sue Husband outlines the role that small businesses in particular can play in unlocking the great potential of young people 

Traineeships provide 16 – 24 year olds with the essential work preparation training, maths and English skills and work experience they need to get an apprenticeship or other job.  

Traineeships were launched just over a year ago. Part of our commitment to helping young people prepare for their future careers, the programme was developed in response to business need and research showing that school leavers frequently lack the knowledge and work experience employers expect in the workplace.

And the programme is off to a good start. 10,400 young people started a traineeship in 2013/14 and more employers and providers continue to get involved. Traineeships have been endorsed by the TUC and CBI and hundreds of employers including the BBC, Virgin Media and Jaguar Land Rover and many smaller firms have already taken on trainees.  Indeed, small businesses are playing a vital role in creating these new opportunities for young people to become work ready.

One example is Somerset based Rogers Restoration Ltd, a family run electrical business. On why it has embraced traineeships, its managing director, Mike Rogers says: “Businesses have a responsibility, no matter what their size, to invest in young people. Providing opportunities for them to develop and improve their skills is essential, and that’s why we have committed to offering traineeships. Not only do we want to help young people in Somerset, but as a business we want to bring in fresh talent and ensure we are contributing to continued skills development in our sector.”

But why should more small businesses follow suit and take on a trainee? Why does it make good business sense? Here are five compelling reasons:

  1. Do your bit to support the local region and economy

An ICM poll of employers found that two fifths believe it is their duty to help develop the next generation workforce, while 35 per cent say it’s their social responsibility to help young people develop the skills they need to get a foot on the career ladder. Offering work experience to young people through a traineeship is just one way SMEs can satisfy their desire to help. In return, SMEs are able to nurture the next generation and help their business to develop a loyal, talented workforce.

  1. Build a pool of future recruits

Traineeships offer small businesses an opportunity to help build a pool of high-quality future recruits for their sector. With employers designing the traineeship themselves, in partnership with a training partner, they can ensure the programme suits both the needs of their business and the needs of the trainee.

  1. Professional development for existing employees

Current employees will have the opportunity to build their own mentoring and coaching skills by supporting the trainee. Developing these managerial and coaching skills can be beneficial for the whole business, giving staff more responsibility and confidence.

  1. It doesn’t cost anything

All training costs are covered by government funding, including a free job site to post any traineeship opportunities. And if a trainee goes on to do an apprenticeship at the firm, the business may be eligible for an apprenticeship grant for employers of £1,500.

  1. Bring in fresh ideas

Young people have a lot to offer employers and a traineeship isn’t just a one way street in terms of learning. Taking on a trainee can be a mutually beneficial learning experience, with a young person potentially bringing in new ideas and insights to the business.

With SMEs accounting for over 99 per cent of the 4.5 million plus businesses in England, the potential reach of the traineeship programme amongst the small business community is significant. The number of young people SMEs could help on the road towards employment should not be underestimated.  


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