Skip to content

Getting a job in a new industry: how SWAPs can help

SWAP banner

What is a sector-based work academy programme (SWAP)?

Sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) are an opportunity to learn new skills and get experience of working in a particular industry, for example care, construction or warehouse work.

The programmes are designed to help jobseekers, who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), to build confidence, improve job prospects and enhance CVs.

SWAPs last up to six weeks, and consist of three parts:

  • Pre-employment training – a short module of vocational training run by a local college or training provider,
  • Work experience with an employer in the industry, where you can learn new skills on the job,
  • At the end of the programme, either a job interview with an employer in the sector or if an interview cannot be offered, help with the application process.

Participants will continue to receive benefits whilst taking part in a SWAP, and if you need to travel to the employer’s place of work or to where the training is held, you may be able to receive help covering the cost of public transport or appropriate childcare.

The programme is designed to help improve job prospects, help employers fill jobs, as each SWAP is linked to one or more genuine job vacancy. While you’re not guaranteed to get a job from completing a SWAP, it does help you to improve your chances of gaining employment in that sector.

You can find out more information, including eligibility and requirements at gov.uk  (external website).

Do SWAPs work?

Ashley, Greater Manchester I was referred to a SWAP in adult social care by my Work Coach. I had lost my main source of income as a musician due to COVID-19, so had re-think my path to the future. By completing the training, I gained the necessary qualification, and after just the second day of the placement, I knew this was the right job for me. I was delighted when I was offered a full-time position. Now I get to have a really positive impact on people’s lives and give back to the community. This is something I’m very grateful for.”

Is a SWAP for me?

If you are claiming Universal Credit, JSA or ESA, live in England or Scotland, and are looking for work, then a SWAP could be a great way to find a new job.

SWAPs are available in many different industries, from construction, warehouse and logistics to public sector, hospitality and social care.

If you are interested in taking part in a SWAP, you will need to talk to your work coach, who will discuss with you the kind of opportunities available in your local area and if a SWAP is right for you.