Trainee Programs


Soo May Cheng


Be Certain There Is Need For Trainees

Discuss intensively within the organization whether a trainee program is needed.  Resources and support for the program will need to come from top management, and the cooperation of all organizational members involved with the trainees will be essential towards their successful training. Be certain that the need for trainees is supported by organizational members for employment or succession purposes.

Careful Assessment

Ensure that the selection of trainees includes a careful assessment of the applicants’ motivational profile. Highly talented people willing to learn and are patient to explore possible job placements make better trainees than candidates who are impatient to settle into one job and to progress upwards. 

Clear Communication

Communicate with trainees and other with organizational members about the purpose and objectives of the training, and the desired outcomes of the trainee program. Trainees need assurance that the time they spend in training will lead to good positions with commensurate salaries.  Existing employees need reassurance of job security, and equitable rewards and promotional prospects being accorded them as well as the new trainees. 

Be Supportive

Support trainers, mentors and supervisors who are directly working with the trainees to prepare them for suitable eventual placements. Financial, time and material support may have to be mobilized to enable these individuals to feel appreciated and confident to share expertise and experience with their potential successors.

Monitor Systematically

Monitor systematically the progress of the training, and be honest in conveying the assessment of the trainees. Enable them to make informed decisions about whether to continue with the program, or to quit. Introduce interim achievement milestones and recognize trainees who achieve them so as to motivate them to stay the course. Build exit clauses into the agreement so that either the employer or the trainee can terminate the training at mutually agreed times, without disrupting the work of the unit to which the trainee is attached.

Consider Replacing The On-Job Probation With Trainee Program

Consider the trainee program as the screening mechanism for all new recruits before placement in a permanent position. This can replace the on-job probation where a new recruit may be left to swim or sink without systematic training. 

Follow Through to the End, and Beyond

Don’t launch a trainee program with a lot of hype but fail to check in periodically to demonstrate continuing organizational support for all involved in the program.  Follow through to the end, and beyond.  An alumni association may be established to enable trainees who have graduated to network and give mutual support as they settle into their regular jobs.


Do Not Over-Promise

Don’t create a hype around the trainee program or its participants such as to give them unreasonably high expectations or feelings of entitlement. Similarly, do not over-promise on what awaits the trainees at the end of training. 

Don’t Ignore the Interests of Existing Employees

Don’t ignore the interests of existing employees who may perceive their positions as being threatened by trainees who are being groomed to replace them. 

Don’t Allow Mentees to Lose their Mentors Abruptly

Don’t allow mentees to lose their mentors abruptly, as in the case of mentors moving away or leaving the program suddenly.  Team mentoring and training in a program will minimize this risk.

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