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

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


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

  • available from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021 for newly hired apprentices joining your organisation. £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25+.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Read about how businesses are using incentive payments to hire apprentices.

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

Up to £750 through some providers, in selected regions only, for the 2020 to 2021 academic year as part of a pilot.

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.

Read about how employers are using the Kickstart Scheme.

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.


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 2021.

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.

Published 8 October 2020
Last updated 10 December 2020 - hide all updates

  1. 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.

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

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

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

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

  6. First published.

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