Employment for care leavers


Employment is when you work for a company or organisation. This can be either full-time or part-time.

To become employed you normally have to go through a recruitment process. This usually includes an application form and interview. Some companies may ask you to do some tests or role-playing at the interview. 

Most companies pay you monthly into your bank account. You may get additional benefits depending on the company. An example of this is free dental or health care.

To find a job you can search online, visit your local Jobcentre Plus or contact employment agencies.

There are different ways that you can gain employment. 

Work experience Click to get info

Work experience is where you spend time working with a real employer. It's usually organised by your school or college.

For example, if you want to be a hairdresser, you could do work experience in a hairdresser’s salon for a few weeks.

Work experience can help you to:

  • experience what it is like in the world of work
  • get a job - because you can tell an employer that you have some experience
  • decided if this is the right type of job for you or not

Work experience can last between two weeks to a year, depending on how your course operates the programme. Usually, you won’t be with an employer every day. You may start by doing one or two days a week and then build up to doing blocks of work experience.

You don’t get paid for doing work experience, but you get your travel paid or your lunch provided. The idea is that you get real work experience that will help you get a job in the future.

Most schools will organise some time for you to participate in work experience whilst you're still at school. 

Some college courses have work experience as part of the course and you have to participate in the programme to gain your certificate.

Apprenticeships Click to get info

Apprenticeships mix on-the-job training with classroom learning. They give you a nationally recognised qualification as well as real experience working for a company.

Apprenticeships are tailored to specific job roles, so it is important to research and choose carefully.

To apply for an apprenticeship you must be over 16.

The current minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.50 per hour. This rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year.

You can read more about the different types of apprenticeships and apprenticeships available in your area on the GOV.UK website.

You can get help from your leaving care coach with access to apprenticeships and include this goal in your pathway plan.

What levels are there?

  • Intermediate level: equivalent to five GCSEs
  • Advanced level: this is equivalent to two A Levels
  • Higher Apprenticeships: leading to NVQ Level 4 or above or a Foundation Degree

Extra help 

Colleges and training providers delivering your apprenticeship can provide additional learning support if you have an impairment which makes it hard for you to follow a particular training programme.

The Access to Work scheme can pay towards additional help needed in the workplace. 

Internships Click to get info

An internship is where you work for a company for a set time and you learn different roles within the company. Once you’ve completed your internship you can then apply for a job with the company.

The advantages are that you know the company well and have more of a chance of succeeding. Even if you’re don’t get a permanent job with the company, your experience will make it easier to get a role with other similar companies.

Ask your leaving care coach about internships and include this goal in your pathway plan.

Traineeships Click to get info

A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship.

In a traineeship you will get:

  • work preparation training
  • maths and English coaching
  • work experience

Traineeships are available to all 16 to 23 year-olds. They last between six weeks and six months.

You don’t get paid on a traineeship, but you might get expenses such as transport and meals.

There are some traineeships that have been designed to support care leavers.

You can find out about traineeships available in your area on the GOV.UK website.

Volunteering Click to get info

This is another way of gaining experience in the world of work. You can volunteer wherever you feel you will get the benefit. 

Usually you can claim back expenses that you’ve paid as a result of your volunteering, such as travel and lunches.

There are volunteering organisations you can contact who will help you find the right company to work for. 

Find out more on the Community Waltham Forest website or visit Do-It volunteering website

Talk to your leaving care coach about volunteering opportunities and include this goal in your pathway plan.

Connect with local brands Click to get info

Slenky is an online platform for young people where you can connect with leading brands and organisations. 

Slenky is a way to stay in the know about what's going on around you and to discover new opportunities. It's a place to explore and follow your passions and interests, and find out more about the things that inspire you or matter to you most.

Visit the Slenky Waltham Forest website to find out more.