Work placement opportunities for pupils

Education Scotland’s Work Placements Standard (PDF 654KB) states that work placements should allow young people to experience a relevant, challenging, enjoyable and appropriate learning experience in a workplace. A placement should help young people make informed decisions about their future careers.

Within the context of Curriculum for Excellence and Developing the Young Workforce, the work placement is now an integral part of a pupil’s education in the senior phase, and features in the criteria which schools are inspected against.

Work placements also allow pupils to find out about employment opportunities in a particular industry, the qualifications needed and any training or further education courses they should consider.

Schools should ensure that all pupils take part in at least one relevant experience of work at some stage throughout S4 to S6, with priority given to pupils planning to leave at the end of S4. Pupils can go on work experience from 1st May at the end of S3 if they are going to reach school leaving age either during their S4 year or at the end of the Christmas term of their S5 year.

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Aberdeenshire Council carries out health and safety checks on all employers taking part in the work placement programme and the safety of pupils is always paramount. 

Work placements

The main type of work placement is the flexible or extended placement which is suitable for pupils who have space in their timetable for a regular work placement over a specific period, for example one day a week over a school term. This type of placement can be arranged at any time during the academic year, but a minimum of 4 weeks notice should be given before the placement starts to allow the Work Placement Unit to complete the necessary checks.

Sourcing a placement

Pupils can source their own work experience placement by asking family members, friends or by asking a local employer. Once an employer has agreed to offer a placement an extended or flexible form must be completed.

Experience shows that the most successful work placements are those sourced by the pupil. Not only do these usually match a pupil's career aspirations, they also engage young people in the process of approaching businesses which benefit their communication skills and boost their confidence.

Pupils who might struggle to source their own placements will receive support from their school and the Work Placement Unit.

Apprenticeship programmes

Foundation Apprenticeships

Working in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland, we offer Foundation Apprenticeships to S5 and S6 pupils across a range of frameworks including Engineering, Business Skills, and Social Services and Healthcare. The Foundation Apprenticeships qualification is SCQF 6 which is the same as a Higher. All of the Foundation Apprenticeships that we offer are one-year courses, except Engineering which takes two years to complete.

The Foundation Apprenticeship consists of course material delivered in school, as well as experience gained in a workplace, with the pupil spending at least one half day per week on a work placement.

Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 are also available in Automotive, Construction and Hospitality. 

Find out more about Foundation Apprenticeships. If you are interested in hearing more about offering work experience placement or hosting a Foundation Apprenticeship pupil then please contact us.

Businesses are important to the success of Foundation Apprenticeships and we are always looking to hear from companies willing to provide a placement for a pupil. They will undertake real projects for the business, designed to supplement school studies with real world experience. This will be coordinated by a local learning provider, who will also provide training to support the work experience. As the pupil is still at school there are no salary costs and Skills Development Scotland cover the training costs.

Aberdeenshire Council Apprenticeships

In line with a commitment to the employment of young people, we run an ongoing programme of apprenticeships across a variety of services. These have expanded from the traditional four-year apprenticeships that are offered in positions such as electrician, joiner, painter and mechanic to include the new style one and two year modern apprenticeships in positions such as home care, ICT and administration. Graduate Apprenticeships are also available in subjects such as business management, ICT and civil engineering. 

The apprentices “earn as they learn”, undertaking their work duties, gaining valuable work experience in a busy environment and working towards an industry recognised qualification.

Find out more about our apprenticeship opportunities.

Work placement providers

The participation of companies and organisations across the north east is fundamental to the continuation of the work placement programme.

Participation by companies is voluntary and they can decide on the type of placements they may wish to offer. They are also free to determine how many placements they are able to offer, and when in the academic year it best suits them to offer these.

Placement providers can also apply various selection criteria to the placements they have on offer. This may include pupil interviews for suitability, an age limit, qualifications that pupils should be capable of attaining, a written reference from a guidance teacher or completion of a CV to forward to the provider.

Companies can also benefit in the following ways by offering work experience placements:

  • giving them experience acting as a mentor, role model or supervisor
  • making them feel that they are contributing something worthwhile to help young people prepare for working life
  • raising health and safety awareness
  • broadening their experience of young people from different backgrounds and cultures, and with varying abilities and needs

In addition providers often report that work experience can also benefit their organisation by:

  • making a visible contribution to the local community
  • developing recruitment channels through links with schools and through informally assessing students as potential future employees
  • helping to motivate and develop the skills of staff
  • helping to create a positive image of the organisation and their industry

For an employer which is offering a placement for the first time, a visit from an Aberdeenshire Council health and safety assessor must be arranged prior to the pupil being placed. The visit from the assessor will establish the suitability of the proposed placement with regard to the physical and procedural safeguards in place to safely control the risks that the pupil may be exposed to. The visit will also check that the provider has employer liability insurance as well as checking their health and safety policy (if there are more than five employees).

If you are an employer who is interested in offering placements please contact us.


Work Placement Unit
Education and Children's Services
Aberdeenshire Council
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
AB16 5GB
Telephone: 01467 539555 or 01467 536788