The government has rejected an employer and provider suggested proposal that traineeship learners should be offered a financial incentive for taking part.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed how the idea of payment for trainees emerged from the sector in its first year evaluation of the scheme (pictured top right), published on Wednesday (March 12).

It said: “The main improvements to the programme that were suggested by providers and employers were to offer a financial incentive to participating trainees, and to improve the promotion or advertising of the programme.”

However, a BIS spokesperson said that while it “encourages, but does not require, employers to consider providing trainees with support to meet their expenses such as travel costs,” there were “no plans at present to offer a financial incentive to participating trainees”.

Trainees can already access financial support including the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, and Learning and Learner Support funding for 19 to 24-year-olds, she said.

Access to Work funding from the Department for Work and Pensions might also be available for the work experience element of traineeships if the learner has a disability or health condition.

She said the National Apprenticeship Service’s traineeship marketing and PR campaign would continue to raise awareness. “This complements the work of training organisations locally,” she said.

A National Union of Students spokesperson said it was “supportive” of the programme, launched in August 2013 with the aim of giving young people high quality work experience and training to help them into an apprenticeship or employment, but that “offering a salary would be a huge incentive for these often vulnerable young people, as well as offering them a route into permanent employment or an apprenticeship”.

John Allan

“Many of the employers offering traineeships are similar in size to those offering apprenticeships, so they should be able to afford to pay trainees,” she said.

A CBI spokesperson said: “If firms are in a position to pay trainees then that is welcome, but what is important is that such opportunities exist in the first place to allow young people to get a foothold in the labour market.”

John Allan (pictured), national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “If employers feel able to offer financial support for trainees, this should be encouraged. However, any mandatory paid requirement could risk turning some businesses away from the scheme. A careful balance is required.

“Where they can, businesses should look to offer expenses. The Government could do more too, by promoting financial support schemes. For example, the 16-19 bursary fund and the learner support funding.”

The evaluation document further found that half of 1,590 trainees surveyed went on to apprenticeships or employment, and a further 17 per cent undertook further learning.

Skills Minister Nick Boles, in a framework for delivery document (pictured top left) out the same day the evaluation was published and which referenced the results, said: “We owe it to young people to retain this focus on quality outcomes, which is why we have strengthened the use of performance data from 2015/16.

“As announced in the government’s response to the funding consultation on traineeships, we will do this via a number of routes; provider funding, the publication of provider-level employment outcomes to inform young people’s and employers’ choices, and by setting minimum standards for progression to employment from traineeships.”

The evaluation document came the same week Mr Boles revealed government hopes of doubling traineeships to hit the 20,000 mark this academic year.