Guidance

'Plan for Jobs' skills and employment programmes: information for employers

A range of government programmes, some of which offer financial incentives, are available for employers who are considering hiring employees, offering work experience or upskilling existing staff.

This information is to help employers understand the programmes available so they can decide which would be best suited to their business.

Apprenticeships

If your business in England is looking to:

  • offer someone a skilled job with formal training for at least 12 months
  • create a new job for someone looking to retrain or upskill, or who has recently been made redundant
  • benefit from a recognised, respected programme delivering opportunities nationally and across all industry sectors
  • develop the talent pool in your business and develop a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce who can build their careers through apprenticeship progression

Then apprenticeships might be right for your business.

Apprenticeships are jobs which combine practical on-the-job skills training with sustained off-the-job learning, available from entry level to master’s degree-equivalent. Your employee will get training in the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are relevant to their job and you will need to pay them a salary.

Apprentices spend 80% of their time in the workplace and at least 20% undertaking off-the-job training in a setting that suits the needs of your business – this could be a college, a training provider or at an Institute of Technology (IoT). Training can also be delivered in your place of business.

Potential benefits to your business

  • many apprentices stay with their employer when they finish their apprenticeship. This can make a sustainable investment in the skills to support your business as the economy recovers
  • improve your productivity; apprentices are motivated to learn new skills
  • a productive and effective way to grow talent
  • capitalise on new ideas and a fresh perspective

Financial incentives available

  • as announced in the Budget 2021, businesses will be able to apply for a new payment of £3,000 for each apprentice they take on as a new employee between 1 April and 30 September.
  • you can decide how to spend the incentive to best support the needs of the business and the apprentice. It is in addition to the payments already made to support specific groups of apprentices such 16 to 18-year-olds, those with disabilities, or young people leaving care. You must have an apprenticeship service account if you want to apply for an incentive payment.
  • an exciting talent planning route for your business could see an apprentice joining your organisation for a Kickstart placement then progressing onto an apprenticeship with you. You would have access to the full range of financial support the government provides for apprenticeships.

Employer costs

  • Apprentice National Minimum Wage – at least £4.15 per hour, though many employers choose to pay more than this in recognition of the value apprentices bring to their organisation.
  • you may have to contribute 5% of the apprentice’s training and assessment costs – depending on the size of your business and the age of your apprentice. Your training provider will be able to advise you on this.

Further information

Find out more about how apprenticeships can benefit your business.

Industry placements: T Levels

If your business in England is looking to:

  • find some extra help with projects or a key piece of work
  • build a pipeline of talent for junior positions or apprenticeships
  • offer a young person a short placement to gain work experience
  • have early sight of new talent coming into your industry

Then T Level placements might be right for your business

T Levels are a new, 2-year qualification for 16 to 19 year olds. Designed with employers, each T Level is equivalent to 3 A levels and helps young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to thrive in the workplace.

At the heart of each course is a 45-day industry placement, that will give you early access to the brightest talent entering your market.

Potential benefits to your business

  • industry placements are an ideal solution for entry-level skills
  • you can avoid many of the costs associated with recruitment by working with local colleges and schools to connect with young people who are deciding on their careers
  • placements give you a chance to work alongside the next generation of workers entering your industry, making sure they develop the knowledge, attitude, and practical skills to succeed
  • capitalise on new ideas and a fresh perspective

Financial incentives available

Employers can claim a £1,000 cash boost for every T Level student they host on a high-quality industry placement from now, until July 2022.

More information on how to apply for the incentive is available on GOV.UK.

Employer costs

No cost (it is optional whether the employer chooses to pay the young person a wage and/or payment for expenses such as travel and subsistence).

Further information

Find out more about how T Levels can benefit your business.

Kickstart Scheme

If your business is looking to:

  • help young people at risk of long-term unemployment
  • offer 6-month Kickstart Scheme job placements to help them gain valuable work experience
  • test out whether someone’s right for a permanent job or an apprenticeship with you

Then a Kickstart Scheme placement might be right for your business.

The Kickstart Scheme offers six-month work placements, in new jobs created using grant funding from the scheme, for 16 to 24 year olds who are currently out of work claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment. 100% of their time is spent in the workplace with in-work training to help develop transferable skills aimed at increasing their chances of sustained employment.

Potential benefits to your business

  • you can support young people to gain valuable experience and improve their chances of finding work
  • help a generation of young people affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19
  • benefit from new ideas, and help your teams gain supervisory experience
  • you can see whether a young person is a good fit for an apprenticeship or a job in your business after their job placement

Financial incentives available

100% of wages are subsidised at National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage depending on the age of the young person) for up to 25 hours with employer National Insurance and automatic enrolment contributions also fully funded.

Funding of £1,500 is also provided to cover the costs of employability training and on the job start-up costs – these can include but not limited to uniform, safety equipment, IT equipment and other practical materials.

Employer costs

No costs

Further information

Find out more about how the Kickstart Scheme can benefit your business.

National Careers Service

If your business in England is looking to:

  • explore work and skills opportunities for your workforce including those offered as part of the skills recovery package
  • carry out a skills needs analysis for your business to understand gaps and find solutions
  • help to find skilled people to fill current vacancies in your organisation

Then the National Careers Service can help.

Potential benefits to your business

  • futureproof your business for the future labour market
  • help to develop your current workforce and supplement with talented individuals who have the skills you need
  • increase your resilience and productivity
  • take part in national virtual jobs fairs

Employer cost

The National Careers Service is free to use.

Further information.

Find out more about the National Careers Service and how to contact us.

Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP)

If your business in England or Scotland is looking to:

  • recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset, developed through fully-funded pre-employment training
  • help someone on out-of-work benefits by offering a work experience placement and a guaranteed interview for a real job
  • find a flexible programme that can be tailored to meet your recruitment needs
  • have an easy way to see job candidates in action, and could also identify candidates for an apprenticeship

Then SWAP might be right for your business.

SWAP can be tailored to meet your recruitment needs, including pre-employment training, a work experience placement, and your guarantee of a job interview for participants. They run for up to 6 weeks, with a work experience placement usually at your business and with pre-employment training off site or online.

Potential benefits to your business

  • you can recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset, developed through fully funded pre-employment training
  • reduces the risks within the overall process of recruiting new employees
  • an opportunity to work with like-minded businesses together to contribute to wider priorities around diversity and inclusion, or social mobility, in your organisation
  • work experience placements allow developmental opportunities for existing employees, for example by working on their mentoring, supervisory and coaching skills

Financial incentives available

Government-funded tailored support to meet your recruitment needs.

Employer costs

There is no direct cost, SWAP placements are entirely government-funded.

Further information

Find out more about how SWAP could benefit your business.

Traineeships

If your business in England is looking to:

  • prepare a young person age 16-24 (25 with an EHCP) for specific apprenticeship or employment roles in your business
  • get to know and work with a young person to see if they’re right for an apprenticeship or job in your business
  • give your current employees direct experience in training and mentoring
  • find more flexible ways to offer a work placement

Then a traineeship might be right for your business.

A traineeship is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. The full programme can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, though most traineeships last for less than 6 months.

Your business needs to be able to offer at least 70 hours of a safe, meaningful, and high-quality work experience.

The trainee will gain English, maths, digital and work-related qualifications which can lead them on to an apprenticeship, work, further education or a Kickstart placement.

Potential benefits to your business

  • allows you to design a programme that suits both the needs of your business and the needs of the trainee
  • can help you develop a loyal and talented workforce
  • allows you to help support young people into meaningful work
  • increase your capacity and productivity

Financial incentives

  • £1,000 per young person placement (up to 10 incentive payments per employer, per region) for employers offering traineeship work placements between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2022.
  • As announced in the Budget 2021, there will be an additional £126 million to fund 40,000 more traineeships for 16 to 24 year olds in England, in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

Employer cost

No cost (it is optional whether you choose to pay the young person a wage and/or payment for expenses such as travel and subsistence).

Further information

Find out more about how traineeships can benefit your business.

Free qualifications for adults

If your business in England is looking to:

  • develop the talent pool in your business and a motivated, loyal, and qualified workforce
  • help your current employees to progress into higher skilled roles in your business, without needing to fund the training yourself.

Then free level 3 qualifications for eligible adults might be right for your business.

As part of the government’s Plan for jobs, any adult aged 19 and over, who does not have a level 3 qualification (equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels) or higher, now has the opportunity to access a fully funded course. Learners may be able to get help to pay for childcare, travel and other costs.

In keeping with the government’s commitment to put employers at the heart of the further education system, the offer is focused on sector subject areas that are linked to labour market need.

The course list has been carefully selected with input from industry and a number of sector representative bodies, as well as the FE sector. The list includes courses that can apply to and support different local labour markets, and a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors, for example, digital skills, accountancy and business skills.

We are keeping the list of qualifications and the sector subject areas in scope under review to ensure this offer adapts to the changing needs of the economy.

Potential benefits to your business

  • help you develop a loyal and talented workforce with the skills you need (94% of employees would stay at their company longer if it invested in their career – LinkedIn Workplace Learning report 2019)
  • futureproof your business in a rapidly changing labour market
  • improve your productivity; learners are motivated to learn new skills, provide new ideas and a fresh perspective
  • support your staff to upskill or reskill into a higher level role in your business, without funding the training yourself.

Financial incentives available

  • you can avoid many of the costs associated with training by working with local colleges and training providers to find flexible courses that meet the training needs of your employees.
  • employees may need to meet admissions criteria for some of the qualifications available and may need to have studied a particular subject before at a lower level.

Employer costs

  • the courses are fully-funded for eligible adults. Employees may need time to study and attend classes depending on their working hours and status and the flexibility of the course.

Further information

Find out more about free qualifications for adults.

More information for employers and other stakeholders, including who can add qualifications to the list of level 3 courses being funded as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, can be found on the National Skills Fund page.

Skills Bootcamps

If your business in England is looking to:

  • build a pipeline of talent for new positions or apprenticeships
  • develop the existing talent pool in your business and a motivated, loyal workforce
  • offer a guaranteed interview to someone looking to retrain or upskill in a subject relevant to your business, or who has recently been made redundant, supporting people affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19
  • recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset, developed through funded pre-employment training

Then Skills Bootcamps might be right for your business.

As part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, Skills Bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults (aged 19 and over) and employers. They will provide valuable medium-higher level skills based on local employer demand and offer a guaranteed job interview on completion.

In keeping with the government’s commitment to put employers at the heart of the further education system, Skills Bootcamps will support immediate labour market needs by helping employers to fill much-needed vacancies.

Skills Bootcamps are available across regions of the country and include a range of digital courses, technical training in skills like construction or engineering, and green skills like electrical vehicle maintenance. Skills Bootcamps in construction are currently running in the West Midlands and Heart of the South West, with Greater Manchester also offering Skills Bootcamps in retrofitting in the coming weeks. This involves adding new technology or features to old systems, including those that will support government aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

A list of Skills Bootcamps is available on GOV.UK. This list will grow over the summer months as more Skills Bootcamps become available. We anticipate training over 16,000 individuals.

Potential benefits to your business

  • help you develop a loyal and talented workforce with the skills you need
  • futureproof your business in a rapidly changing labour market
  • improve your productivity; learners are motivated to learn new skills, provide new ideas and a fresh perspective
  • help you recruit staff with the right training and skills from the outset

Financial incentives available

  • for employers wanting to train their own employees through Skills Bootcamps, the government will fund 70% of the cost
  • for learners taking a Skills Bootcamp independently, Skills Bootcamps are free as the government will fund 100% of the course cost

Further information

More information for employers and learners on the Skills Bootcamps that are available to employers and learners is available.

Published 8 October 2020
Last updated 29 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. We have added a link to further information on learner support under the "Free qualifications for adults".

  2. We have updated the information under the sections on free qualifications for adults and Skills Bootcamps. We have also added a link to the National Skills Fund consultation.

  3. We've added information on the T Level incentive for employers.

  4. We have added information on free level 3 qualifications for eligible adults and skills bootcamps.

  5. Updated information on extension of apprenticeship incentives, as announced in the Budget 2021.

  6. We have updated the information on apprenticeship incentives as the eligibility period has been extended to the end of March 2021 to continue to support employers during COVID-19.

  7. We have added case studies showing how businesses are offering traineeships and T Level industry placements.

  8. We have added case studies about how employers are using the sector-based work academy programme (SWAP).

  9. We have added case studies about how employers are using apprenticeship incentives and the Kickstart Scheme.

  10. We have updated the details of the government programmes available for employers who are considering hiring employees or offering work experience.

  11. First published.