A NEW training programme will be introduced from September 2021. The new Traineeship programme will be available in a range of sectors from September with further traineeships being introduced in the following year.  Training for Success Skills for Work Level 2 provision will no longer be available.

What is a Traineeship?

The Traineeship will provide a high-quality vocational education and training programme at Level 2 and is aimed at school leavers and adults who aspire to work within a specific sector.

The Traineeship will available to all school leavers and adults providing participants with the skills and qualifications necessary to secure employment in their chosen occupation.  Each Traineeship has been developed with employers to ensure that what you learn and the skills you develop are what employers are looking for. The Traineeship will allow participants to progress to an apprenticeship at Level 3 or alternatively to Further Education at Level 3.  

The new Traineeship programme will allow participants to achieve a full Level 2 qualification and will comprise the following key elements:

  • A main vocational based qualification, equivalent to at least 3 GCSEs in the chosen occupational area

  • Vocational skills development

  • Transversal and digital skills

  • Work placement

  • Literacy and numeracy qualifications at Level 2 (may include GCSE qualifications in English and mathematics)

  • Additional qualifications deemed necessary for work within a sector e.g. Health and Safety, CSR, manual handling

Traineeships will be available in the following areas
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Brickwork
  • Plastering 
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Plumbing
  • Engineering
  • Retail
  • Motor Vehicle - Light Vehicle Repair
  • Heavy Vehicle - Light Vehicle Repair
  • Land-Based Engineering (Agricultural Machinery repair)
  • Auto Electrics
  • Construction Plant Maintenance

Developing your wider skills 

As well as providing you with the technical skills and knowledge in your chosen area, the Traineeship will help you to develop a range of transversal skills that are important for employment including:

  • Problem solving

  • Teamwork

  • Communication

  • Time management

  • Entrepreneurship 

Project Based Learning will also be a key feature of Traineeships. ​This is a dynamic approach to learning in which you will explore real-world problems and challenges that have been developed with employers. With this type of active and engaged learning, you will be inspired to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects you are studying and develop a wide range of hands-on skills.


The Traineeship programme will typically take up to two years to complete on a full-time basis. Trainees who achieve qualifications during their first year may progress earlier to an apprenticeship or further education.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be required to hold a minimum of a Level 1 qualification, defined as 4 GCSEs at grades D-G including Maths and English grades D-F, or equivalent. However, most areas will require higher grades in Maths and English. The enhanced entry criteria for the Traineeships is shown below:

Professional / Technical area GCSE Maths Grade GCSE English Grade
Light Vehicle D E
Heavy Vehicle D E
Carpentry and Joinery D E
Brickwork D E
Plastering & Dry Wall Lining E E
Plumbing D D
Engineering D E
Retail E E
Land Based Engineering D E

Applicants who do not meet the enhanced entry criteria will enter an Introductory Phase of the Traineeship.  Upon enrolment trainees will undertake initial assessments which will confirm whether they should enter the full Traineeship or the Introductory Phase.
Achievement of the Full Traineeship Certificate
Those that complete qualifications equivalent to five GCSEs at Grade C including English (or Level 2 Communication) and Maths (or Level 2 Application of Number) will receive an overarching Traineeship Certificate issued by the Department for the Economy.
Partial Achievement
Trainees who do not achieve all of the components will be recognised for partial achievement. This may mean that the trainee passes the Technical Qualification but does not achieve a Grade C in English (or Level 2 Communication) or a Grade C in Maths (or Level 2 Application of Number). Trainees who have partial achievement may be able to progress to Level 3 Further Education.
Trainees who secure employment, in their chosen occupational area, during their traineeship can transfer seamlessly to Apprenticeship Level 2.  As an apprentice, if you become unemployed during your apprenticeship, you can transfer onto a Traineeship to complete your programme.  
All trainees who have attained the Full Traineeship Certificate, can progress within South West College to a Level 3 further education course or a Level 3 Apprenticeship (possibly with your work placement employer).  This can lead to Higher Education options.  

Trainee Support
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
Trainees may be entitled to an Education Maintenance Allowance. EMA pays £30 per week and is available to 16–19 year-olds (means tested). Attendance is monitored and payment is dependent on full weekly attendance in all subject areas including placement.  Bonuses are also payable on the achievement of qualifications.
EMA application packs can be downloaded from
Further Education Grant
Trainees can apply for an FE Grant of up to £2,092 per year which is means tested and non-repayable. 
The deadline to be guaranteed support is 30th June although applications are open until the 30th September.
Hardship Fund
If you are age 18 or over on 1 July 2021 and suffering from financial hardship you may be eligible for financial assistance through the College’s Hardship Fund. Assistance from the Hardship Fund is means tested and can only be provided once all other sources of funding have been explored. Childcare can be supported through the Hardship Fund if support is unavailable from the FE Award and Care to Learn.
Online Learning
If you are required to engage with online learning colleges may facilitate this by lending the IT equipment which you require.
Trainees will receive free Health and Safety Equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There may also be a requirement for trainees on Health and Social Care courses to be vaccinated when undertaking placements in hospital settings. 
Travel/Bus Pass
Trainees will be eligible to apply for a bus pass.  Bus passes are issued through the Education Authority (EA).
To receive a bus pass, a trainee must:

  • Be under 19 on 1st July before the start of the academic year.

  • Be studying a Further Education course only

  • Live at least 3 miles from their nearest college. 

Trainees will also be reimbursed for their travel costs to work placement.
Free School Meals
Trainees under 18 years of age at 31st July, before the start of the academic year, may be entitled to free school meals. Applications must be made by your parent or guardian to the Education Authority. School meal tickets will be available from reception and should be collected on a weekly basis.
Pastoral Care
Trainees will receive a high level of pastoral care from College staff with appropriate support mechanisms in place.
Care to Learn
If you are or become a parent and are aged between 16 and 19 at the start of the course, then you may be entitled to assistance with childcare costs.
Republic of Ireland (ROI) Trainees
ROI trainees are eligible to apply to undertake a Traineeship. You may be eligible to apply for Back to Education support if you are currently in receipt of a Social Welfare payment.

Employer Support

An Employer Guide to Traineeships is now available providing an overview of the Northern Ireland Traineeship, range of Traineeships available, alignment to Apprenticeships and Frequently Asked Questions.

The information contained on this page may be subject to change.