Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Skills for work if you're under 19

If you want to get a job after Year 11, it’s important to choose one which offers you planned training leading to nationally recognised qualifications.

Learning through work to boost your career

More and more, employers are looking for workers with higher level skills and qualifications. So, if you want to start work, finding a job with training will give you better long-term prospects.

You can learn through work in a way that suits you. For example, you could study part time during evenings and weekends, or through distance learning (online or correspondence).


If you want a job that guarantees excellent training, an Apprenticeship could be for you.

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of employment sectors. As an Apprentice, you earn money while you learn and study for nationally recognised qualifications.

If you’re looking for work

Foundation Learning Programmes

If you’re not ready to start an Apprenticeship, employment with training or further education after Year 11, you may benefit from a Foundation Learning programme. To qualify, you must live in England and be aged between 16 and 18.

Foundation Learning is intended to develop your motivation and confidence. It will also help you build skills that you can use in the workplace, known as ‘Key Skills’ and ‘Skills for Life’.

Foundation Learning is tailored to your individual needs, so it does not last for a fixed amount of time. As well as working towards a qualification, you can try out different work and learning situations.

If you are on a Foundation Learning programme, you may be able to receive money in the form of an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

New Deal

New Deal can help you find and keep a job. While you’re on New Deal, you’ll get help and support from a personal adviser. They will help you look at what you can do and build on the skills you have.

If you are aged 18 to 24 and have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for six months or more, you must take part in New Deal to keep getting some of your benefits. This doesn't apply if you have a good reason for not taking part.

If both you and your personal adviser decide that it’s best, you may be able to take part if you have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for less than six months.

From October 2009, in some parts of the UK, New Deal is being replaced by 'Flexible New Deal'. See 'New Deal' to find out more.

If you’re in work - but there’s no training

If the job you have found offers little or no training, you could be eligible for something called Time Off for Study or Training (TfST).

You can qualify if you are 16 or 17 and did not get any Level 2 qualifications at school. Level 2 qualifications include:

  • GCSEs at grades A*-C
  • an NVQ Level 2
  • certain other qualifications, such as a BTEC First Diploma

TfST entitles you to reasonable paid time off during normal working hours to study or train for an approved qualification. This must be a Level 2 qualification that will help improve your future employment prospects.

The time off you get will depend on the course, your circumstances, and your employer’s needs.

If you're 18, you're also allowed to finish any qualifications that you've already started.

Where your training can lead

You may be able to use the qualifications you gain through work-based training as a route into university or higher education. This can further improve your job prospects and potential earnings in the future.

The work experience you gain could also be really useful if you want to apply to do a Foundation Degree. Foundation Degrees combine academic study with work-based learning.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Access keys