Traineeships in construction

The government introduced its Traineeships Programme in August 2013. They are aimed at young people aged 16 to 23 (and young people with learning difficulty assessments up to the age of 25) who are unemployed (or work less than 16 hours a week) and need extra help to gain an apprenticeship or a job.

They are made up of three core elements:

  • A work placement;
  • Work preparation training; and if required
  • English and maths support.

A Traineeship should provide a learning opportunity of between six weeks and six months and should help a trainee make the transition into a job by developing their skills and allowing them to gain workplace experience.

TUC Model Traineeships Charter – guidance for union representatives 

The TUC has developed a model Traineeships charter to help unions negotiate high quality Traineeships and safeguard against the exploitation of young people and against existing workers being displaced from their jobs. 

It believes that high quality Traineeships can help young people gain the skills required to undertake an Apprenticeship or find secure employment; but that certain criteria have to be met to ensure that they are high quality. UCATT adopts the same approach as the TUC Model.

The charter sets out negotiating points for union reps including the following:


Where work of value to the employer is being undertaken, employers should pay Trainees. Lengthy work placements are likely to lead to work of value being undertaken. Unions will need to be vigilant and make sure that Trainees are paid at least the National Minimum Wage and where possible the rate for the job.

Although Trainees are exempt from the National Minimum Wage, this should not prevent them being paid where appropriate. 

Some Trainees will be entitled to apply to the 16-19 Bursary Fund, or the Vulnerable Student Bursary to secure funding to help them undertake a Traineeship. Unions can raise awareness of the Bursary Fund to enable the most disadvantaged young people gain access to a Traineeship. For details see

Health and Safety of Trainees 

The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance for employers and young people on work experience placements;

The employer should carry out a risk assessment in the workplace which takes into account the particular issues that affect young people, including their lack of experience and awareness of risk. They should also consult with the union Health and Safety representatives on the risk assessment and the measures they intend to take. 

Trainees should be given sufficient training on health and safety and fire safety to ensure they are not a risk to themselves or others. Training may also need to be given to other staff on the specific risks involved in working with trainees. 

Joining a Trade Union

All Trainees should also have a right to join the union. Trainees in building and contruction can join UCATT.

More information 

Unionlearn has developed further resources related to Traineeships providing: 

An overview of the Traineeships framework 

  • A Traineeship Agreement Checklist
  • An outline of what high quality work experience placement should comprise of
  • TUC policy on careers guidance
  • TUC policy on Apprenticeships 

For more information see:

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