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Traineeships and school leaver programmes

What are traineeships and school leaver programmes, and how can they help you get an apprenticeship or a job? Find out here.
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About traineeships

Traineeships were introduced in August 2013 for 16-23 year olds and young people with Learning Difficulty Assessments up to academic age 25.
  • They provide the essential work preparation training, literacy and numeracy skills, and work experience needed to get an apprenticeship or other job.
  • Traineeships last from six weeks to six months – with content tailored to your individual career needs.

About school leaver programmes

School leaver programmes give you a direct route into the world of work post-18.
  • The benefits of going straight into work are numerous and begin with earning a wage while you're learning – both on the job and formally.
  • There are also the benefits of learning new skills, meeting new people, travelling, and gaining the confidence and capabilities that come with working with people older and more knowledgeable than you.
  • Often employers will offer post-18 job options which allow you to develop into exactly the same end role as a graduate – just by taking a different route which may be better suited to you.
  • A typical school leaver programme will last between 12 months and five years, and may include obtaining a qualification as part of the programme objectives.

Pret A Manger School Leavers Programme

The Pret School Leavers Programme (SLP) is designed to give students who don’t want to go into higher education the opportunity and support to start their careers straight away.

Available to school leavers across the UK each year, each successful applicant is given a full-time, fully-paid, shop-based role from late September, as well as access to training, support, and work skills courses. By the end of the year, they qualify with an Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship and a guaranteed, permanent role within the company.

80% of Pret Managers join as Team Members. Honeybea Youngman joined Pret’s SLP in 2013 at the age of 17, and helped recruit this year’s programme intake.

'I didn’t have much confidence when I first started, but I had an amazing manager. I remember the first time she handed me the keys to close the shop – I’d never had that much responsibility in my life. I checked that they were still in my bag every ten minutes that night! It felt incredible to be given that much respect and it made me realise that if you’re nice to people and work hard, they will want to help you.

'The atmosphere in Pret shops is fun and fast-paced. It isn’t always glamorous, but there are so many opportunities to make friends, grow as a person, and work your way up the ladder. It’s hard work, but it’s taught me to be more thorough in everything I do, and I am amazed by how in control I am in my new role.'

Applications for Pret’s next SLP intake will open in summer 2017. Find out more about Honeybea’s story and how to kick-start a journey like hers at

IBM apprenticeships

Over recent years, apprenticeships have become fantastic alternatives to university. They allow aspiring professionals to jump straight in to the working world to gain the experience they need to build the foundations of a strong career.

IBM apprentices have the opportunity to achieve both an advanced and higher apprenticeship, as well as a number of other qualifications, such as OCR Level 3 and 4 diplomas. There’s even the opportunity to earn a degree, should they wish to.

The roles will be demanding and challenging but they are amazingly rewarding, giving students the support and opportunity to progress further and faster. Best of all, apprenticeships allow students to learn while they earn, so they don’t have to worry about accumulating student debt.

On an apprenticeship scheme, students will be able to immerse themselves in a community of like-minded people, working alongside leading industry professionals eager to share their wisdom. These connections and experiences will help students to grow their skills and professional network. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved in social activities with other apprentices, students and graduates in the local area.

The IBM apprenticeship scheme provides students with a task manager who is responsible for day-to-day support, such as helping to manage work load and giving apprentices the opportunity to get involved in new projects. They also have a Professional Development Manager looking after their ongoing development and future career plans, and a mentor with whom they can chat about absolutely anything.

To find out more about the IBM apprenticeship scheme and the roles available, please visit our website at

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

If you have not yet obtained a university or college place or secured full-time employment, you might be interested in apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship is a real job with training so you can earn while you learn and pick up some recognised qualifications as you go.

With over 22,000 quality apprenticeship vacancies available online, there has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship. If you live in England, are over 16 and not in full-time education, you can apply.

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