The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed to FE Week that the traineeship minimum duration rule of six weeks has been scrapped.
In new joint guidance from BIS and the Department for Education out today and due to come into force for new starts from August, the rule has been replaced with an “expectation that work placements will last between 100-240 hours”, effectively between two and 7 weeks at 35 hours a week.
The new guidance continues: “Longer placements may be necessary to prepare young people for work, but these would need to be based on clearly identified learner needs.”
It comes after a slow start for the programme and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The guidance published today highlights further improvements to the programme based on feedback from those delivering and undertaking traineeships.
“This will enable the programme to be expanded and allow more young people to benefit from Traineeships, whilst maintaining a strong focus on quality.”
The rules scrap the existing requirement that trainees complete no less than six weeks and no more than five months of work experience as part of their programme.
The maximum duration of six months will remain in place.
The change is part of new guidance on traineeships which include new rules to allow good or outstanding providers to provide apprenticeships even if they have been given a “financial notice of concern” by the Skills Funding Agency or Education Funding Agency.
Mr Hancock, pictured, hailed the changes as making traineeships more accessible.
He said: “Traineeships have had a successful first year and thousands of young people have benefited from the chance to get the skills and work experience they need for an Apprenticeship or other job.
“But there is more to do. We need more employers to offer traineeship places; I want more young people to have the opportunity to embark on a Traineeship and take the first step in working towards a successful career.”
It comes after a rule allowing 24-year-olds to take up traineeships was included in February’s Skills Funding Statement, and the Department for Work and Pensions 16-hour rule, which limited the amount of time trainees aged 19 and over could train every week and still receive benefits, was removed in March.
The new guidance adds: “For benefit claimants from 2014/15 the work experience element can be up to 240 hours (or extended if the offer of an Apprenticeship place is accepted) at a maximum of 30 hours a week, and can be done over the duration of the Traineeship if necessary. This replaces the previous rule which restricted the work experience to 6-8 consecutive weeks. This new flexibility will support providers and employers to design programmes which meet the needs of young people and enable work experience to take place alongside the other training elements of the Traineeship.
The rules have also been relaxed concerning the need to identify the work placement host at the start of the programme. From August providers with be able “to identify the employer providing the work experience placement up to four weeks after the traineeship has started.”