If you’re unemployed, the Department for Communities Work Experience Programme can help you develop your employability skills and gain the experience you need to get a job, as well as promoting opportunities for employers.

The Department for Communities works with employers to offer the opportunity to obtain meaningful work experience to those who are seeking work through the Work Experience Programme.

Offering meaningful work experience

The Work Experience Programme provides employers with the opportunity to offer meaningful work experience which can provide a valuable contribution to the development of people’s employability skills and career aspirations.

The work experience placement may be within private, public, voluntary or community sector businesses or organisations. Placements must be organised in a variety of real work environments which help a jobseeker develop or update their work skills or habits. The emphasis must be to provide jobseekers with meaningful work experience that will be of real benefit to them in their journey towards employment.

The Work Experience Programme is open to 16-65 year olds who are unemployed or in receipt of benefits. Employers who provide a person with a work experience placement may receive an incentive payment of £250.

Opportunity Guarantee

The Opportunity Guarantee strand of the Work Experience Programme is for young people aged 16-24 years old. Employers may provide Opportunity Guarantee placements where they will be in a position to offer the young person an interview for a job or apprenticeship at the end of the placement.

Employers who provide an Opportunity Guarantee placement will receive an additional £250 incentive payment at the end of the placement.

Eligibility for the Work Experience Programme

Employers will be asked to sign an agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the programme.

For the Work Experience Programme, employers need to be willing to host a work experience participant for a period of two to eight weeks.

For Opportunity Guarantee, employers need to be willing to host a participant for a period of thirteen weeks, be in a recruitment position and willing to offer participants an interview for a job or apprenticeship.

Employers will not be asked to make any payments to participants on the programme. Participants will retain their benefit entitlement during the period of work experience.

Further information

For further information on the Work Experience Programme contact your local Jobs and Benefits office.


Work experience placements

The Work Experience Programme offers short work experience placements with local employers for people aged 16-65 years.

You can learn more about specific industries and job roles to help you make more informed choices about your future.  They can also help improve your confidence and motivation.

Placements can last between two and eight weeks and will give you the chance to try out various tasks in a real work situation and develop skills needed to help you get a job.

Opportunity Guarantee (for people aged 16-24)

Opportunity Guarantee is a strand of the Work Experience Programme for young people aged 16-24. It builds on the Work Experience Programme with enhanced features:

  • work experience placements of thirteen weeks
  • a guaranteed interview for a job or apprenticeship when the placement ends
  • can link to a JobStart opportunity if the employer offers you a job after the placement ends

When you are on a Work Experience or Opportunity Guarantee placement you will receive up to £50 per week (£10 per day) for taking part

How to get on the Work Experience Programme

To be eligible for the Work Experience Programme, you must:

  • be aged 16-17 and receiving Universal Credit


  • be aged 18-65
  • be receiving Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support and actively seeking employment
  • be actively seeking employment  if you’re unemployed and not claiming benefits

To get involved in the Work Experience Programme, speak to a work coach in your local Jobs and Benefits office to discuss what skills you need to develop.

If you’re eligible, they can help you identify suitable work experience opportunities that could improve your chances of getting a job.

A work coach can also help you develop job-search skills and advise on CV building and interview techniques.

Taking part in the programme is voluntary and you’ll continue to receive your benefit.

Any eligible weekly travel costs and childcare costs will be reimbursed.

If you would like a work experience placement and have a disability, or are having issues in a placement because of your disability, the Access to Work scheme can help.

Employers and training providers may also advertise apprenticeships or work experience opportunities they may have available on JobApplyNI(external link opens in a new window / tab) which lists all current vacancies throughout Jobs and Benefits offices in Northern Ireland.

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