Sector Based Work Academies

What is a Sector Based Work Academy?

A Sector Based Work Academy (SBWA) is a government initiative aimed at getting people who are receiving benefits into employment as well as helping businesses to obtain high quality staff who help to sustain and grow your business. This is done by working with Progress to Excellence and your local JobCentre Plus who will help you to recruit and train a group of unemployed people from which you choose the best candidates to offer employment. It is a great way of working with your local community in reducing unemployment and helping people to progress into a new career.

SBWAs last for a maximum of six weeks, but can be less, and consist of three elements:

  • pre-employment training delivered by Progress to Excellence
  • a work experience placement
  • a guaranteed job interview

If you are unable to offer all three components, we may be able to work with you to overcome this – such as enabling you to work in partnership with other employers as a consortium.

Participants will remain on benefits throughout the period of the SBWA and JobCentre Plus will pay any travel and childcare costs while they are on the work experience placement. There is no direct cost to an employer for SBWAs as the costs are covered by government funding.

Pre-Employment Training

Progress to Excellence will work with you to develop a training programme that suits your business needs. It will include a qualification in a subject area that is relevant to your business – for example, Health and Social Care –  in addition to Functional Skills training in English and maths. This will be discussed to establish the most appropriate training for your business. For more information or an informal discussion, please contact the Employer Engagement Team on 0151-650 6933 or email

Work experience placement

A work experience placement will enable those working on the SBWA to develop their skills and knowledge within a work environment. You will decide, with support and guidance from Progress to Excellence and JobCentre Plus, the length of time participants will undertake the work experience placement as well as how to set this up successfully.

In order for the work placement to be successful for all parties, it is important to treat participants as regular employees as far as possible while they remain on benefits but, at the same time, recognising that they may initially need additional coaching and supervision.

Guaranteed job interview

A guaranteed job interview to obtain employment at the end of the SBWA will not only provide motivation to participants but will also give them valuable interview experience which could help in their future job search. You may also want to consider whether an Apprenticeship opportunity would be of benefit to your business as the participant will be part-qualified and you may wish to consider employing them on an Apprenticeship to further their training. You can find out more about Apprenticeships by contacting Progress to Excellence.

Why should a business take part in a Sector Based Work Academy?

  • Businesses can take advantage of a fully-funded training programme designed to meet their specific business needs.
  • An opportunity to provide a work experience placement for potential employees allows an employer to see first-hand if participants are suited to that type of role and your business, an opportunity you very rarely get through traditional recruitment.
  • Work experience placements allow developmental opportunities for existing employees – for example, by developing their mentoring, supervisory and coaching skills.
  • An opportunity for positive publicity to show how like-minded businesses are working together to contribute to their local communities.

If you are interested in taking part in a Sector Based Work Academy or require any further information, please contact the Employer Engagement Team on 0151-650 6933 or email