Employer Guidance – Active Traineeship Academy

What is a traineeship?

A Traineeship scheme is a fantastic opportunity for employers to give young people a stepping stone into the workplace, making them work ready and providing them with the essential skills needed to start their careers, such as maths and English and interview preparation.

It is a short unpaid work experience programme for young people and acts as a ‘try before you buy’ or ‘an extended interview’ process for employers. Its 100% government funded and has enough funding to cover a ‘work ready’ technical certificates to help them become employable i.e. NPLQ.

What are the benefits to my company?

  • short and funded by government
  • gives your current employees experience in training and mentoring
  • allows you to design a programme that suits both the needs of your business and the needs of the trainee
  • can help you increase capacity and productivity
  • can help you develop a loyal and talented workforce
  • allows you to help tackle youth unemployment
  • is a route into an apprenticeship

What will I need to commit to?

  • meaningful, high-quality work experience
  • a minimum of 100 hours of work experience – but no more than 240 hours for benefit claimants – over a maximum of six months
  • constructive feedback and advice to the trainee
  • an interview for an apprenticeship or job in your business at the end of the traineeship if one is available
  • an exit interview at the end of the traineeship with meaningful written feedback if no job is available

The traineeship is free to your business but you may support trainees with expenses such as transport and meals.

Who can do a traineeship?

To be eligible to be a trainee, candidates need to:

  • Be 16-24 year olds
  • Be eligible to work in England
  • Have little or no work experience but ready to go into the work place
  • No qualifications above a level 3
  • Be committed to functional skills if need
  • Be committed to a 6 week – 6 month programme
  • Not be working or in education more than 16 hours per week

What does a traineeship look like?

Traineeship fundamentals

  1. Work experience
  2. Employment preparation Level 1
  3. Functional skills
  4. Flexible element (qualification)

Objective = Achieve a recognised progression

Work Experience

16 to 18 year olds: Work experience hours MUST account for at least 50% of the traineeship in comparison to the total Guided Learning Hours (GLH) of the qualification offered.

19 to 24 year olds: Work experience and qualification GLH must total 350 hours. No ratio split is required for this age group. 

Employment preparation Level 1

This will cover CV writing, cover letter and completing an application form. It will also contain knowledge questions and an observation. 

Functional skills (If needed)

If a trainee has already attained grade C or more in GCSE Maths & English, they will be exempt. Learners who can’t provide GCSE evidence + taking into account their BKSB result, must complete the next level up i.e. Score entry level 2 on BKSB = must sit entry level 3 (or more) exam. 

Flexible Component (Qualification)

ICON can deliver a range of certificate elements suited to your business needs.

How do I get started?

  1. Identify that you have a need for a trainee.
  2. Establish basic information:
  3. When would you like it to start? (recommended minimum of 3 weeks advertising time)
  4. How many trainees are you looking to take on? (if it’s the first time, go for smaller numbers. There is no limit to the number of trainees, however be aware that there is more chance of disengagement as unlikely to achieve an outcome).
  5. How many recognised progression opportunities can you offer? There must ALWAYS be at least one opportunity per employer to progress onto an apprenticeship.
  6. Decide whether you would like to offer an optional element e.g. NPLQ
  7. Send us your details.

Email all your information to ICON Business Support Team at recruitment@icon-training.com

include your name, contact details, work site address and what you would like to offer. From here you will be provided a Traineeship Training Agreement and a Find a Traineeship template. This is where all the details and specifications of the traineeship will be outlined and from which your positioned will be advertised.

Recruitment and Employment

  1. Advertising your vacancy.

Using the details that you have provided in the Find a Traineeship template, your advert will be published on the Find a Traineeship GOV.UK site and Indeed. You may like to also utilise any social media platforms that you use to get more applicants and promote your vacancy.

  1. Application Process.

 Applicants will apply directly to ICON, who will vet their suitability for a traineeship following the criteria as set out in “Who can do a traineeship”.

  1. Vetting and Interviewing

We suggest that the best way for you to select candidates is to use a “Drop In” style informal interview. Whereby applicants that are eligible will be invited to attend by ICON.

  1. Drop In

This model is essentially a designated time and day of the week, pre agreed between you and ICON for invited candidates to attend to complete an informal interview, hosted by you.

It is a great way of creating touch points so that any applicants that apply in a certain week can be seen by the employer on the next (or next planned drop in day). Picking a designated day and time which will work every 1-2 weeks will keep it consistent and help drive the momentum of applicants. It also makes it easier if a candidate has to rearrange. After the drop in days, you will need to communicate back to ICON who you wish to put forward for the traineeship or recruitment day.

  1. Selecting your trainee

Once you have decided on your trainee(s) you will need to send the names of the candidates to the Business Support Team at ICON who will send a welcome email to them, which includes an application form and a log in to complete an online English and Maths assessment.

  1. Enrolling your trainee officially onto the Traineeship

Together with ICON you will need to confirm a “Sign Up” date, whereby the ICON Trainer will meet with the trainee(s), sign them onto the traineeship and start their programme. This Recruitment Day, should also consist of you conducting things such as a site tour, employer challenges and getting to know the team.

Tips for Recruitment Day

  • Include a trial shift for the chosen candidates to ensure that you are happy with your candidates.
  • Always invite more candidates than you need! Trainees are more likely to drop out last minute.
  • Don’t let the quality of an application be too much of a determining factor, as they will learn more about this on the traineeship course.

The Traineeship

  • The “Onboarding Day” should be planned to take place within 7 days of the learner sign up and can be extended to 2-3 days depending on the amount of trainees/functional skill delivery.
  • A time sheet is required for the trainee as evidence of the hours they have worked.
  • A progress review will be completed by the ICON Trainer during the course which can include course delivery days and social media communication.
  • There will also be a final day review after 100 hours work experience have been achieved, where the ICON Trainer will review learner goals and complete closure paperwork.
  • Employer then completes an interview with the trainee.


The aim of any traineeship is for the learner to progress. As part of the traineeship the employer is obliged to complete an interview with the trainee, whether a position is offered as a consequence or not. The most positive outcome would be for the trainee to progress into either an apprenticeship or paid employment.

Programme weeksWork ExperienceProgramme elementsProgramme activity
Week 1 and Week 2Initial taster shadow shiftsRecruitment Day Introduction, Guidance & Sign-up
  • Intro traineeship & employer
  • Employer specific challenge
  • interviews, sign-up & diagnostics
  • E-Learning Introduction
Taster shifts to see if the young person is suitable
Work experience continues until interview or outcome Totaling 100+ HoursOnboarding Day Customer Excellence & Employment Preparation Workshop
  • Goal setting, monitoring, and reviewing
  • Preparing for employment
  • British Values, Prevent & Safety
  • Customer service upskilling
  • Blended functional skills
  • Employment Preparation Level 1 (CV, cover letter & Interview prep)
Decision made on continuing with full work experience programme
Week 3Flexible Element (Occupation Qualification)For example, employer run NPLQ course
Week 3 – 4Functional skills
  • Delivered and assessed by ICON
  • Including, English, Maths & ICT
Week 6 – 8Progression/ Outcome
  • Interview by employer
  • Decision on progression made
  • ICON apprenticeship/job for the successful trainees