Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP)

Sector Based Work Academy Programme Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) help prepare those receiving unemployment benefits to apply for jobs in a different area of work.

Placements run up to 6 weeks and are designed to help you recruit a workforce with the right skills to sustain and grow your business. They are tailored to meet your recruitment needs, including pre-employment training, a work experience placement, and your guarantee of a job interview for participants. Jobcentre Plus manages SWAPs in England and Scotland.


Jenni Dunne, from the Institute of Care Excellence, Nottingham University Hospitals had the following to say about the benefits of SWAP: 

“Nottingham University Hospitals have a long standing partnership for a Sector Based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) with Futures for Business. This is a fantastic opportunity for us, as a Trust to support our community not only with a route back into employment, but also a route to an NHS Career starting with us as a Healthcare Assistant and more recently as an administrator.

The training provided by Futures (Health and Social Care, and Business Administration courses) gives the candidates an understanding of what is required within the roles, and provides the opportunity for personal skill and attribute development to allow the learners to deliver the best service they can and thrive in these roles.”


A sector-based work academy can last up to 6 weeks. Placements have 3 main components:
  1. pre-employment training – matched to the needs of your business sector
  2. work experience placement – a great opportunity for your business to identify talent and for the individual to cement their knowledge and understanding of the required role
  3. a guaranteed job interview or help with an employer’s recruitment process

An important feature of SWAP is that each sector-based work academy offers a flexible approach and can be adapted to meet the needs of your business. Placements are particularly useful for young people but are open to all jobseekers aged 18 upwards.

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 similar employers in a consortium approach.

Participants remain on benefits while on a SWAP placement. The government will pay any travel and childcare costs whilst benefit claimants are on the scheme. There is no direct cost to an employer for running a sector-based work academy as training and administration costs are covered by government funding.

Employer responsibilities

In order for both businesses and individuals to benefit from the work experience placement, 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

To learn more visit’s page: Sector-based work academy programme: employer guide


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