Thames Reach
Monday 20 November 2017
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Duration and structure

Service user traineeships last for 12 months and are structured into specific development stages.

Structure of traineeships in service-delivery teams

The traineeships in service delivery teams are divided into three phases:

  • Month 1 – Induction
  • Months 2 to 6 – Placement in project
  • Months 7 to 12 – Second project placement

The following outlines the key elements of each period of the traineeship.

Month 1 – Induction

  • Graduated number of days at work (Week 1 = 3 days; Week 2 = 3.5 days; Week 3 = 4 days; Week 4 = 4.5 days).
  • A significant portion of the month is spent in training, i.e. Thames Reach core training and specific training around issues that relate to being current/former-service user.
  • A meeting with life coach and placement supervisor.
  • At least two days in the placement team.
  • The days not spent in Thames Reach are deemed as dedicated ‘home study days’.  These days are to be used to:
    • review and reflect on the previous day’s training
    • visit the job centre to ensure benefit claims are in order
    • take time to readjust to working life through rest and recuperation. 

Months 2 to 6 – Placement in project

  • Full-time hours in placement team.
  • Placement supervisors are responsible for: managing the trainees’ development; project induction; one-to-one support; supervision; 3 and 6 month reviews.
  • Trainees focus on developing skills, knowledge and abilities based on an agreed set of competences, through shadowing other workers and taking on individual casework.
  • Trainees receive additional core training and life coaching support outside the placement teams.
  • In the final month, trainees visit the second placement team (1-4 days) in which they will be working for the final 6 months of their traineeship.  These visits help to ensure a smooth transition into the second placement.

Months 7 to 12 – Second project placement

  • Trainees learn their role in the new placement team and continue to develop skills and knowledge based on the set of core competencies.
  • Trainees work more independently; increasingly use their own initiative; work towards taking on a full caseload.
  • Placement supervisors in new teams are responsible for: managing trainees’ development; project induction; one-to-one support; supervision; 9-month review.
  • Trainees receive job search training and support through core training and from their life coach.  
  • Trainees apply for jobs.

Structure of traineeships in central services teams

The structure of the traineeships in the central services teams (e.g. IT, HR and finance) is the same as for the support worker trainees with the following exceptions:

  • The induction includes specialist training for the role
  • The trainee is placed in one team for the full 12 months.

Lesson learnt

Duration of the traineeships

Throughout the first two years of the GROW project, Thames Reach’s traineeships were nine months in duration. However, after evaluating the scheme and receiving feedback from trainees and supervisors, the traineeships were extended to 12 months. This was to assist trainees to:

  • Learn their role more fully
  • Provide a more realistic time period to develop their  competencies
  • Assist them to apply for permanent work once they felt confident in their role
  • Enable trainees to meet the requirement of one year of work experience as a support worker that still exists in some homelessness organisations’ person specifications. 

Lesson learnt

Structure of the support worker traineeships

It was originally envisaged that trainees would have three distinct placements of equal length within the overall nine month traineeship. However, research into other traineeships and feedback from team managers highlighted the need for a consistent learning environment for trainees.

The idea of three ‘mini-placements’ was reduced to two and the length of the main placement extended to 6 months. At the start of the 7th month, trainees did a 6-week mini-placement and then returned to their original team.

A few trainees chose to remain in their mini-placement and did not return to their original placements for the 9th month. These trainees benefited from the consistency that came with a longer mini-placement and the opportunity to start afresh in a new team.

Extending the traineeships to one year meant that the second placement could be extended to 6 months to offer a fuller learning experience.  

Where possible, one of the two placements is in a hostel setting while the other is in a different type of service (e.g. supported housing or tenancy sustainment). This is to ensure trainees have a varied experience and learn about how Thames Reach supports clients with a variety of needs and at different stages of the resettlement process.