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An introduction to sector-based work academies
Sector-based work academies are a way to create a skilled workforce for your business. The schemes are available in England and Scotland to help those who are ready for work, and receiving benefits, to secure employment. Sector-based work academies are designed to help meet your immediate and future recruitment needs as well as to recruit a workforce with the right skills to sustain and grow your business.
A sector-based academy can last up to 6 weeks. Placements have 3 main components:
- pre-employment training – relevant to the needs of your business sector
- work experience placement – of great benefit to the individual and a business
- a guaranteed job interview
An important feature of the sector-based work academies is that they offer a flexible approach and can be adapted to meet the needs of your business. The scheme is particularly useful for young people but is open to jobseekers of all ages.
If you are unable to offer all 3 components, Jobcentre Plus staff may be able to work with you to overcome this, such as enabling you to join together with other employers in a consortium approach.
Participants will remain on benefits throughout the period of the sector-based work academy. Jobcentre Plus will pay any travel and childcare costs whilst they are on the work experience placement. There is no direct cost to an employer for sector-based academies as the costs are covered by government funding.
The government is committed to ensuring that people looking for employment have the essential skills to succeed in the workplace. Jobcentre Plus, colleges and other training providers want to work with employers like you to design the content of sector-specific training that meets the needs of your business and those of the labour market.
In England, sector-based work academy training is fully funded through the Skills Funding Agency and delivered by further education colleges and training providers. The training will enable participants to undertake units on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).
In Scotland, sector-based work academy training may be fully funded through Skills Development Scotland or other partner organisations and delivered by further education colleges and training providers.
It will also be possible for your business to deliver the training without public funding.
Work experience placement
A work experience placement in your business will enable participants to develop their skills and have the opportunity to work in a realistic environment. The length of a work experience placement is determined at the initial discussion between you and Jobcentre Plus and it provides invaluable benefits for both businesses and individuals participating in a sector-based work academy.
The main principle to supporting participants during the placement should be to treat them as regular employees as far as possible, whilst they remain on benefits, but also recognising that they may initially need additional coaching and supervision. Preparing for the work experience placement will ensure that you and the participant will get the most from this experience.
In order for both businesses and individuals to benefit from the work placement element, Jobcentre Plus will ask that you:
- explain what you need the scheme’s participants to do
- inform them of management and reporting arrangements
- encourage positive working relationships
- provide an overview of your business and its values and culture
- give a tour of the workplace
- provide guidance on using any equipment
- provide guidance on health and safety
- explain standard workplace practices such as security procedures, dress code, sick leave and absences and break times
Guaranteed job interview
A guaranteed job interview for one of your vacancies will provide participants with valuable interview experience.
You may also want to consider whether an apprenticeship opportunity would be of benefit to your business at this time. As the participant will be part-qualified you may wish to consider employing them on an apprenticeship to finish their training.
How your business could benefit
Your business could benefit from being part of sector-based work academies for the following reasons:
- this is a flexible programme that can be tailored to meet your recruitment needs
- you can recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset, developed through fully-funded pre-employment training
- an opportunity to provide work experience placements for potential employees to ensure they are suited to that type of role and your company
- work experience placements allow developmental opportunities for existing employees, for example by working on their mentoring, supervisory and coaching skills
- reduces the risks within the overall process of recruiting new employees
- an opportunity for positive publicity to show how like-minded businesses are working together to meet their social responsibilities
Where to get further information
If you’re interested in offering a sector-based work academy, or would like further information about the services available to support your recruitment needs, please contact the Employer Services Line on 0800 169 0178.
They can offer advice and will be able to put you in touch with a local Jobcentre Plus specialist.