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Skills and work-based training

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Boost your skills

Thinking about your training or work options and not sure what to do next?

There are plenty of skills and training opportunities, both on and off the job. Find out more about things you could do on the Department for Education’s Skills for Life (external website).

Work-based training

You can learn, gain experience and get paid with work-based training for jobseekers of all ages. Find out more about:

  • Apprenticeships – real jobs that allow you to earn a wage while you learn
  • Traineeships (England only) – a work-based skills programme for young people in England to get you ready for a job or an apprenticeship
  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAPs) – opportunities for jobseekers to learn new skills and get experience of working in a particular industry



  • An apprenticeship is a real job with a salary, so you earn while you learn. You’ll be like everyone else, with a contract of employment and holiday leave.
  • Apprenticeships are available for all ages. Whether you are 22 or 52, if you want to learn new on the job skills, then an apprenticeship might be the best route for you.
  • As an apprentice you spend some of your time in off-the-job training, often at a college, university or with a local training provider. By the end of an apprenticeship, you’ll have the right skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career or next steps.
  • There are thousands of apprenticeship vacancies to choose from and some include a qualification, such as a degree.
  • There are opportunities in many different industries, with large and small employers.

To be an apprentice you must be 16 or over (no upper age limit) and not be in full-time education.

  • You can take on an apprenticeship whether you’re starting out in your career, changing roles or you’re upskilling in your current job.
  • You can also apply for an apprenticeship while you’re still at school, but you’ll need to be 16 or over and have finished your year 11 exams before you start the apprenticeship.

Search and apply for an apprenticeship near you in England (external website)Scotland (external website) or Wales (external website).

Career Starter Apprenticeships

Traineeships (England only)

  • A traineeship is a work-based skills development programme available for young people in England that gets you ready for a job or an apprenticeship.
  • Traineeships combine a mix of classroom-based learning with a work experience placement in a real workplace. It can last from 6 weeks up to a year, though most traineeships last for less than 6 months.
  • Trainees gain a wide variety of skills, personal development and occupational training including support to find and apply for a job, CV building, and interview skills. You will also get help with English, maths and basic digital skills (if you need it).
  • Supported by a team of experts, you’ll receive personalised careers advice to help you feel confident to make your next step into the world of work.
  • You won’t be paid, but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals.
  • You can apply if you’re:
    • eligible to work in England
    • about to leave school or college, or unemployed and have little or no work experience
    • aged 16 to 24 and qualified up to and including Level 3 (equivalent to A Level) or
    • aged 25 with an education, health and care plan (EHC).

Search and apply for traineeship opportunities near you (external website).

Sector-based work academy programme

  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP) is an opportunity to learn new skills and get experience of working in a particular industry, for example, care, construction or warehouse work.
  • The programme is designed to help jobseekers who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), to build confidence, improve job prospects and enhance CVs.
  • SWAPs last up to six weeks, and have three parts:
    • pre-employment training – a short module of vocational training run by a local college or training provider
    • work experience with an employer in the industry, where you can learn new skills on the job
    • at the end of the programme, either a job interview with an employer in the sector or if an interview cannot be offered, help with the application process.
  • You will continue to receive benefits whilst taking part in a SWAP, and if you need to travel to the employer’s place of work or to where the training is held, you may be able to receive help covering the cost of public transport or appropriate childcare.
  • The programme is designed to help improve job prospects and help employers fill jobs, as each SWAP is linked to one or more genuine job vacancies.
  • While you’re not guaranteed to get a job from completing a SWAP, it does help you to improve your chances of gaining employment in that sector.
  • If you are interested in taking part in a SWAP, you will need to talk to your work coach, who will discuss with you the kind of opportunities available in your local area and if a SWAP is right for you.

You can find out more information, including eligibility and requirements on the (external website).

Other routes into skilled employment

T Levels (England only)

  • Thinking about what to do after GCSEs? T Levels are technical qualifications you can choose as an alternative to A levels, other post-16 courses or an apprenticeship.
  • One T Level takes 2 years of full-time study and is equivalent to 3 A levels.
  • There are currently 10 T Level courses you can apply for at selected schools and colleges in England. More T Levels will be coming soon, with more than 20 subjects available in the future, covering everything from agriculture to catering, engineering and science.
  • T Levels bring classroom learning and an extended industry placement together on a course that has been co-designed with employers so you can be confident the skills you learn will help you get a job.
  • You’ll spend 80% of your time in the classroom and 20% on an industry placement with an employer so you get to learn the skills and knowledge that companies look for.
  • T Levels will also allow you to progress onto higher level apprenticeships or further study such as university.

To learn more about and to search for T Levels in your area visit the T Levels website (external website).

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