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Work Experience and Volunteering


Apart from making a real difference to someone’s life, offering work experience and volunteering opportunities is beneficial to employers for a number of reasons:

  • recruitment opportunities - providing work experience placements and volunteering opportunities can be a way to access the local labour market and explore a talent pipeline that the employer would not have considered otherwise, ‘try before you buy’ in some instances

  • staff development - supervising and coaching young people and adults on work experience or volunteering placements offers an excellent opportunity to develop employees’ supervisory capabilities, particularly for those who may not normally have any line management responsibilities

  • a more engaged workforce - providing work experience and volunteering opportunties sends a positive message to the wider workforce about the values of the organisation, which can support efforts to build employee engagement

  • engagement in the local community - investors, customers, consumers and service users have increasingly strong opinions about the ethical role employers can and should play in society

  • work experience placements provide a valuable means of creating a positive image, in which the organisation and helps to address social issues related to worklessness in the community

  • contribution to economic development in the local area - by helping to tackle some of the issues around deprivation and youth unemployment.

Other commonly stated benefits include the chance to bring in new and imaginative ideas by listening to younger team members, and the chance to increase diversity by giving opportunities to young people and adults from a wide range of backgrounds, including non-traditional backgrounds in your sector.

Did you know?

Work experience happens where for a period of time a student, young person or adult temporarily works for an employer to get experience of the workplace or sector. We are using the term to include both long and short, formal and informal, paid and unpaid work experience opportunities.

Volunteering also has a lot to offer for anyone who loves to help others and give back to the community and is a fantastic way of connecting with potential employment and training opportunities, and for employers to find a source of new talent and potential new recruits.

Types of work experience include one day a week over a few months or full-time for a few weeks, the employer decides what works for their organisation, the different types of work experience include:

• school work experience

• course work placements

• work shadowing

• T-Level industry

• internships

• SEND supported internships

• traineeships

• sandwich year university courses

• insight events or open days

• workshops and classes

• volunteering.

How it works in the City

School work placement and engagement

The Heart of the South West Careers Hub is one of 33 Careers Hubs in the UK, established in collaboration with The Careers and Enterprise Company to help transform careers education for young people around the country. The HotSW Careers Hub is delivered by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP, and operates in the HotSW area  of Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.

The HotSW Careers Hub currently comprises 60 local secondary schools, colleges and FE institutes working together with employers, universities and career professionals to deliver the Gatsby Benchmarks and ensuring that careers outcomes are improved for all young people.

Employers are key to the success of the HotSW Careers Hub and of young people, through working with businesses of all sizes to ensure the right future talent can be found by employers and offer every young person the opportunity to explore their options and succeed in the world of work.

There are many ways employers can help, please refer to the websites below to find out more:

Heart of the South West Careers Hub

Careers and Enterprise

In addition, the Career South West (CSW) Group works with businesses to help them create greater exposure to their job opportunities, align skills to needs more effectively, and to support workforce development. CSW helps young people to carve careers in developing sectors and help businesses to develop and harness the skills needed to grow their business.

By supporting our activity, employers can help inspire the next generation of the workforce ensuring that young people are prepared for the world of work. Engaging with schools provides opportunities for employees to develop businesses to access education providers and enhance their own outreach activity.

For further detail please click here. Alternatively, contact CSW by email on or by telephone on 07810 656033.

Digital work experience - since Spring 2020, opportunities for traditional in-person workplace experiences have been significantly impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic. One consequence of this has been the development of digital workplace experiences such as virtual tours, ‘meet the employee’ online panels, and virtual communities such as The Careers and Enterprise Company 2020. For further detail please click here.

The need for digital work experience during the years of 2020 and 2021 has paved the way for the development of hybrid initiatives, which have the potential to combine the best of both online and in-person work experience opportunities. Digital knowledge and skills add value to any business as a transferable skill that employers can utilise whilst building a digital toolkit for their business.

T-Level placement - for further detail please refer to the Further Education page.

Traineeships are for young people aged 16 to 24 who have little or no work experience. They are particularly suitable for employers to have a young person spend a minimum of seven weeks working with you, gaining valuable skills and experience.

From 1 August 2023, the UK government will no longer fund a standalone national traineeships programme. Traineeships can however continue to be offered by providers locally in the city. As an employer if you want to explore this option further, please click here.

Employers can also register their interest with local traineeship providers in specific sectors as detailed below:

Achievement Training Ltd for business, beauty, childcare and health.

City College Plymouth for construction, hair and beauty, hospitality, catering, health and social care and business.

GP Strategies for childcare and business.

PGL Training for construction, business and hair and beauty.

GHQ Training for hairdressing and barbering.

SEND Supported Internships

Supported Internships are a work-based study programme for young people aged 16 to 24 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who have an education health and care (EHC) plan.

They are a great opportunity to create and support a diverse workforce and will allow you to shape a job role that suits both the needs of your business and the needs of the supported intern.

Supported interns are enrolled with and supported by a training provider, but spend most of their learning time – typically around 70% in the workplace. In Plymouth, City College Plymouth is the main provider for Supported Internships and you can see more on their programme with Plymouth City Council here.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the further development of SEND Supported Internships in the city, join the Plymouth SEND Employment Forum. Email to find out more.

For more information on SEND Supported Internships, visit HM Government website here.

University of Plymouth - Internships and Sandwich-year Placements

Internships and Sandwich-year Placements are both excellent ways to find talented individuals early. The University has short, bite sized internships known as ‘Micro Internships’ where a student supports employer business with a small project over a two-week period, and summer internships of up to three months. Sandwich-year placements with local businesses are always in high demand and result in a number of benefits to both students and employers.

For more information on UoP Employer Engagement please see here.

If you want to talk about work experience with other educational establishments in Plymouth contact:

City College Plymouth

SIVSEN/City College Plymouth and Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, for work placements in the Social Enterprises 

Plymouth Marjon University

Arts University Plymouth 

The Princes Trust deliver a range of programmes that can be tailored to meet local need via City College Plymouth

General Jobcentre Plus advice and help for recruiters is available. They can help set up work trials to give employers the opportunity to try out potential recruits and offer advice about offering work experience and apprenticeships, including using the sector-based work academy programme, please click here.

Employers can contact the Employer Services Line by telephone on 0800 169 0178 and by email as follows:

For Plymouth (Exeter Street and Bretonside) Jobcentre Plus

For the Devonport Jobcentre Plus office

Employers can also make contact by using the online enquiry form 

Volunteering Opportunities

For volunteering opportunities, Our Plymouth is a city-wide platform for volunteer recruitment. Employers needing volunteers for their business can post an opportunity and also receive support with recruitment, matching and inductions. Click here to find out more and to register an opportunity.

Engaged Communities CIC is developing Go Volunteering which is a technology product to capture the volunteering market place. When launched it will offer a new end-to-end experience for those volunteers wishing to register their profile, organisations who want to post their opportunities and get matched with volunteers, and a volunteer management hub. Further details to follow.

Engaging with the HM Armed Forces (military service leavers, veterans and their families)

There are a variety of ways for local employers to engage with military service leavers, veterans and their families.

Civilian Work Attachments (CWA)

Civilian Work Attachments through CTP involve a service leaver undertaking unpaid work experience with an organisation, in order to gain insight into a particular job role or industry. Along with on-the-job training and experience, CWA’s can also ensure that employees are well matched to employers, prior to any commitments being made by either party. Civilian Work Attachments can be mutually beneficial to both employers and Service leavers and for employers in particular CWAs enable employers to view the range of skills held by the Service leaver, and to assess their suitability for potential employment.

Further insight can be found here.

•  Career Transition Partnership (CTP)

The CTP offers a high quality recruitment service to employers. As the MoD’s official provider of Armed Forces Resettlement, the CTP has the unique position of being able to connect employers with an unrivalled pool of skilled and experienced ex-military talent who are ready to enter the civilian workforce. The CTP is government funded which means that their recruitment services are provided at no cost to employers.

For further information and to connect please click here.

 Military Tuesday at Skills Launchpad Plymouth

Military Tuesday is led by Plymouth City Council, in alignment with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and working in city-wide partnership, Skills Launchpad Plymouth has expanded delivery to include a specific focus on support for military service leavers, veterans, those serving and their families.

This regular service, held in the physical Skills Launchpad Plymouth premises, sees delivery partners DWP Armed Forces Champions, Career Transition Partnership (CTP), and The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA) in addition to other pop-up activities including the Building Plymouth Job Shop, to support local people. Local employers are invited to join Military Tuesdays for specific recruitment engagement events and to promote work experience opportunities. For more information email:

Find out more

A range of government programmes are available for employers, some of which offer financial incentives. Further detail can be found here.

In particular, for traineeships please click here.

Additional information that would be useful includes:

The Education Landscape – A Guide for Employers

Types of work experience

Work Experience Placements that Work - UK publication by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, 2012).

How to give students a good experience of your work place including digital work experience options

Guidelines for creating an excellent work experience

Benchmarks for careers guidance (including work placements) in the UK

Deloitte research about the career choices and aspirations of Gen Z and Millennials

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