Support for 18 to 21 year olds claiming Universal Credit

Find out about the help available for Universal Credit claimants aged 18 to 21 to find employment, work-related training or an apprenticeship.

This guidance was withdrawn on

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides a programme of intensive support for all 18 to 21 year olds making a new claim to Universal Credit. This is known as the Youth Obligation Support Programme.

It aims to encourage and support all young people into employment, work-related training or an apprenticeship.

If you are 18 to 21 years old and are making a new claim to Universal Credit, you will receive a programme of intensive support, based on evidence of what works, tailored to your needs and job goals.

Throughout this, you will continue to receive Universal Credit in line with the agreements made in your claimant commitment. If you are attending training or work experience, you may be reimbursed for travel or childcare costs.

Intensive Activity Programme

Support begins with the Intensive Activity Programme (IAP). This is a set of workshops and exercises that will encourage you to think more broadly about your skills and job goals, and help you to identify any training you need. You will also be supported to develop and improve your CV and covering letter, your interview skills and your job search activities.

Work search reviews

After the IAP, you will have work search reviews by phone with your work coach for continued support and coaching over the next 6 months. The support you receive from these phone calls will be tailored to your individual needs, and will address any personal barriers to work you may have. Your work coach may refer you to a wide range of locally available support, for example:

  • basic skills training
  • other work related training (including traineeships and sector-based work academy placements)
  • 2 to 8 week work experience opportunities

The aim is that many young people receiving this valuable, intensive support will move into a job, training or an apprenticeship fairly quickly . If you are still unemployed after having received intensive support for 6 months, you will be offered a sector-based work academy placement or encouraged to take up a traineeship, or equivalent provision in Scotland and Wales. Both of these combine vocational training with work experience.

Sector-based work academies

Sector-based work academies are developed with local employers to provide you with the right skills to fill vacancies in your local labour market. These can last up to 6 weeks, and include 3 main elements:

  • pre-employment training
  • a work experience placement
  • a guaranteed job interview

Taking part in a sector-based work academy will improve your chances of getting into work.


Traineeships are for a minimum of 6 weeks and can last up to 6 months. They include:

  • work preparation training provided by the training organisation
  • English and maths support if required, provided by the training organisation
  • a work experience placement

Participating in a traineeship will support you to move into employment.

Work experience

If work-related training is not the best way to help you into employment, you will be offered guaranteed work experience for a continuous period of 3 months, to help you achieve your job goals. The opportunity will be in line with your personal job goals – a close match to the role you are looking for or the sector that you are interested in. Participation in this work experience opportunity is voluntary.

By undertaking a work experience placement, you will gain the practical experience and key skills that employers are looking for, and also develop your confidence. You will gain additional experience and skills to put on your CV.

Published 29 March 2018
Last updated 10 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Removed out of date information on the 'Work experience' section.

  2. Removed out of date reference to the roll out schedule for Universal Credit.

  3. First published.