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Employing young people

Participation of young people in education, employment or training (16-18)

A change in the Education and Skills Act 2008, states that young people must participate in education or training. They are required to continue in learning or training until aged 18. This does not necessarily mean staying in school - 16 and 17 year olds will still be able to work. Continuing in learning or training (including employment with training) will help to ensure young people develop the skills they need to succeed and progress in the workplace. This will contribute to a more highly trained and qualified workforce.

To find out more go to the Department of Education website.

Developing young employees

There are many ways to meet the requirements for young people to continue in learning or training while at work.


  • From April 2016 if hiring an apprentice under the age of 25 you will not have to pay National Insurance contributions
  • apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industry sectors with employers from large national companies to smaller local companies
  • there are different levels of outcomes from Intermediate (Level 2) up to Higher (Levels 4, 5 and 6 which is degree equivalent) in most cases and aimed at 16-24 year olds
  • apprenticeships have been proven to improve productivity for business and reduce staff turnover, as well as providing the individual with a nationally recognised qualification
  • there are currently over 200 opportunities from Agriculture and Horticulture to Accounting, Leisure and Tourism, Business and Administration, IT and Leadership and Management, and many more
  • as apprenticeships are work-based training programmes most of the training is 'on the job' (at your premises). The rest can be provided by a local college or by a specialist learning provider or you could deliver everything yourself
  • apprenticeship funding is available from the National Apprenticeship Service. The size of the contribution varies depending on your sector and the age of the candidate
  • apprenticeship qualifications will be given equal legal treatment to degrees as of April 2016


Traineeships are a new training route for young people aged 16-24. Traineeships aim to give young people the skills and vital experience they need to get an apprenticeship or other job. Young people aged 16-19 following this route will be participating in education , employment or training.

Full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training

Your employee could gain a qualification in an area which is relevant to or closely related to their job by studying part-time. This could either be in work based learning or by attending college as well as going to work. The training needs to be 280 guided learning hours per year (equivalent to 1 day a week), but can be arranged flexibly to suit the employer and employee.

What this means for employers

The Education and Skills Act 2008 states that where a young person is employed for 20 hours or more per week (for at least eight weeks in a row) the young person should participate under the Participation of young people in education, employment or training:

  • Young people should be encouraged to train towards an accredited qualification.
  • Agree reasonable hours of work to allow the young person to attend the learning they are enrolled on (in most cases young people should be able to attend training during hours that will not affect your business. You are not responsible for monitoring attendance at their part-time learning)
  • The young person's training should be at least 280 guided learning hours per year