quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

Preparation for Work


The term 'preparation for work' describes work related learning, work experience and employability programmes (see definitions below). During 2017/18, there were over 20,000 work experience opportunities and 45,000 work related learning opportunities as well as over 2,000 employability programme participants in the NHS. This is one of the largest programmes in England. 

A number of surveys have been undertaken to better understand current practice and scale of work experience opportunities within the health sector. Activity contained within the following reports spans the breadth of our work within Talent for Care 

Read the 2015 report.

Read the 2017/18 report

Read the 2018/19 report


To share good practice and raise awareness of activity happening across the country HEE has developed two Directories - a Widening Participation Directory which pulls together a collection of case studies demonstrating various pre-employment activity and careers initiatives and a Preparation for Work Directory that provides information advice and guidance to enable individuals and organisations to set up their own activities that best suit their needs.   

The Directories will be updated as and when new information becomes available and can be viewed here. If you have any information you think would be suitable for either, please email wideningparticipation@hee.nhs.uk

Return on Investment for employability programmes

Commissioned by HEE, Accenture has carried out some research to assess the Return on Investment (ROI) to NHS Trusts for running employability programmes

The findings from the business case demonstrate that there could be an overall ROI of 2.5, meaning that for every £1 spent on delivering employability programmes, an NHS trust could recoup that £1 plus an additional £2.50 in financial and economic benefits.

Step into work

Step into Work (SIW) is an off-the-shelf employability programme for adults aged 19+ who are in receipt of working age benefits.  It was originally co-designed with trusts in the North West and the Department for Work and Pensions, being implemented in several trusts across the North West region.  

Step into Work aims to support participants to develop employability skills and qualities in order to secure health and social care roles, through a blended approach of work placements and training which takes place over a fixed period of time (between 6-12 weeks).   

Following the success of the pilot in the North East, HEE went on to support a further roll out with allocations of funding to support the infrastructure needed to implement this programme nationally.  Ten trusts (or collaborations) were awarded funding in 2019 to commence this programme of work. 

Using SIW as a pre-employment model, trusts (or collaborations) can solve workforce challenges for entry level roles, in areas such as facilities, estates, health care assistants and administration creatively and effectively. HEE offers a three funding model, reducing funding year on year.   

In its first year (extended by 6 months due to Covid-19) SIW engaged with 442 adults with a conversion rate of 40% into positive destinations including apprenticeships, volunteering or further educational programmes of study. This conversion rate is higher than the Department for Work and Pensions average, for employment programmes of this kind. 

HEE are currently going out to tender on an annual basis, inviting trusts (or collaborations) to bid for national funding. Requirements including working with a minimum number of participants on an annual basis, the submission of regular highlight reports, case studies and attendance at quarterly Delivery Group Meetings. A further ten trusts (or collaborations) will be awarded three year funding to develop, deliver and evaluate SIW programmes in 2021/2022.   

Street Doctors

According to nationwide Government research by the Youth Violence Commission the number of young people involved in violent attacks has risen sharply in the last decade, driven by inequality in education, housing and employment, and is more prevalent in areas of multiple deprivation.  

As demonstrated in the Youth Violence Commission report, being at risk of violence is inextricably linked with adverse childhood experiences: poverty, domestic violence, mental health issues and learning disabilities, involvement in the criminal justice system, school exclusion and unemployment.   

The report also states that ‘many young people are also faced with employment markets that offer little other than insecure, fixed-term and badly paid jobs, and are living in communities in which flawed drug policies facilitate thriving illicit drug markets, leaving young people vulnerable to coercion and exploitation’.  

During the pandemic all these problems have intensified, and their legacy will sadly continue.  

HEE has supported a pilot delivered by Street Doctors in the East of England to deliver a peer mentoring project aimed at young people residing in areas of high youth violence. Alongside delivering life saving skills and emergency first aid training, Street Doctors also deliver careers, advice and guidance to support young people to increase their knowledge and understanding of health and social care careers.  A small cohort from this group will go on to train as Peer Mentors, gaining additional skills, knowledge, and confidence to become leaders in their communities, capable of stepping forward to counter the impact of violence themselves. 

The Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care Programme

HEE is working in partnership with Princes Trust and the Department for Health and Social Care to support 10,000 young people into sustained careers within the health and social care sector over 4 years, including those from lower income backgrounds or those affected by long term unemployment.

The programme includes two pre-employment programmes “Get Into” and “Get Started” and mentoring support. These are tailored to fulfil the workforce needs of each organisation and give young people (aged 16-30) a real understanding of the sector and access to a wide variety of entry-level roles and apprenticeships in the NHS and social care.

Get Into Programme

This in-depth programme focuses on increasing young people's chances of securing employment within the sector. “Get Into” lasts between four to six weeks and is a combination of class-based learning and hands-on work placements giving young people a real insight into what working in a health and social care environment is like and a clear understanding of the career pathways that are available.

Get started Programme

A two-to-three-day intensive programme combining, employability skills training and multiple organisation interviews, delivered by industry experts linked to live sector job opportunities.

Get Started is a 2–3 day course, designed for those who feel ready to start working now. The young people will learn about the health and social care sector including the types of roles available, career options and receive job interview preparation support.


Young people are matched to an online professional mentor for up to six months who will support them as they prepare for and start employment.

If you are a young person and would like to find out more visit: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/programmes/health-and-social-care-hub/our-health-and-social-care-courses

If you are an employer and would like to find out more visit: https://www.nhsemployers.org/articles/working-princes-trust