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Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP)

what is a sector-based work academy?

Sector-based work academy programmes (SWAP) help prepare those receiving unemployment benefits to apply for jobs in a different area of work and are a great way to support employers to create a skilled workforce.

How does SWAP work?

A sector-based work academy can last up to 6 weeks. The programme will have 3 main components:

  1. Pre-employment training We will work with employers to design the content of sector-specific training that meets the needs of your business and ensures participants are well prepared for the role.
  2. Work experience placement or employer defined input – This is a great opportunity for businesses to identify and nurture talent in a suitable way. A work experience placement gives participants the opportunity to work in a realistic environment and build their practical knowledge. If a work placement is not suitable we could offer employer defined input such as; a tour of the workplace, job shadowing, talking to current employees or a simulated workplace environment.
  3. A guaranteed job interview –  This provides participants with valuable interview experience and allows employers to select the most appropriate candidate for the job. We can work with businesses to ensure the recruitment process is suitable for the skills required for the role. At this stage, employers may also want to consider whether an apprenticeship opportunity would be of benefit to the business. Employing an apprentice could be a great opportunity to build upon their training whilst also bringing fresh talent into your workforce.

What are the benefits for employers?

Taking part in a sector-based work academy can have many benefits for your business and workforce recruitment.

  • Alleviates candidate training for employers as NWSLC takes on initial candidate pre-employment training.
  • Equips students with key employability skills.
  • Aids staff recruitment retention, as students are trained with bespoke employer expectations and needs in mind.
  • Helps you meet your recruitment needs and recruit talent with the right skills to grow your business.
  • 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.

Benefits for participants

  • Comprehensive pre-employment training from NWSLC allows participants to gain softer key employability skills, allowing them to be work-ready and more confident in the workplace.
  • Ensures participants are gaining the right experience in the right field, through clear guidance of employer expectations before starting the placement.
  • Cements participants’ knowledge and understanding of the required role through relevant industry experience.
  • SWAP is administered by Jobcentre Plus and available in England and Scotland therefore participants can remain on benefits whilst on a SWAP placement.
  • The government will pay any travel and childcare costs whilst benefit claimants are on the scheme.


If you’re an employer and interested in the SWAP programme, get in touch today!

Find out more information about SWAP