Work placement opportunities for pupils

The main ethos of work placement is to introduce school pupils into the world of work and, where possible, into an area of work that the pupils themselves have expressed a career interest in. This enables pupils to find out if their expectations and perceptions of industry match 'real life'. It also allows pupils to find out about employment opportunities in a particular industry, the qualifications required and the training or further education courses they should consider. It is intended that the pupils involved in work placement will be in S4, S5 and S6.

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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. 

Current opportunities and case studies

View our newsletters to find out about latest placement opportunities, case studies and other updates.

Types of work placement 

There are three routes open to pupils seeking a work placement. The work placement process flowchart (pdf 12.6KB) provides additional information on the procedures involved.

Option 1 - self found 

The pupil chooses the self found option where they approach the employer themselves. For instance, this could be a family member or friend but the initial approach must be made by the pupil using the Self Found arrangements form (below). The employer completes Self Found form (pdf 141KB) which is then returned to the pupil.

Option 1 applies where a school has chosen a specific week where pupils will be offered a week-long work placement. The process for this type of placement begins five months before the placement week. This is to allow the Unit time to carry out all the health and safety visits required and to complete other administrative processes before the placements begin.

Option 2 - three choices from WorkIT

The pupil makes three choices from a database called WorkIT which offers a wide variety of work placement providers and opportunities. The pupil's guidance teacher will then select the most appropriate choice and take this forward. The work placement unit (based at Woodhill House) then sends the request to the relevant employer.

Option 2 applies and works in the same way as option 1. The process starts five months before the placement week (specific dates are chosen by the school).

Option 3 - extended or flexible placement

The pupil chooses the extended or flexible placement option. The pupil or guidance teacher should make the initial approach. The typical placement of this type is for one or two days per week up to a period of eight weeks (which may be continued if all parties are in agreement) although more intensive placements might be considered depending on the pupil's circumstances.

Option 3 can be arranged at any time of the year and normally these require to be with the work placement unit a number of weeks before the placement is due to begin to allow sufficient time for all necessary health and safety visits to be completed.

Work placement providers

Companies and organisations across the north east which provide work experience opportunities are fundamental to the operation of the work placement unit.

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 the experience of 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). For additional information read the guide for employers on health and safety visit (pdf 16.9KB).

If you are an employer who is interested in offering placements, please get in touch with our work placement unit.

Apprenticeship programme

In line with our commitment to the employment of young people, the council runs an ongoing programme of apprenticeships across a variety of occupational areas. These have expanded from the traditional four year apprenticeships that we offer in positions such as electrician, joiner, painter and landscape to include the new style one and two year modern apprenticeships in positions such as home care, ICT and administration. 

Our 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 apprenticeship opportunities.

Apprentice and pre-apprentice opportunities with Arnold Clark

The Arnold Clark group offer a wide number of opportunities for young people across their sites in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

From hire drive administrator to accounts assistant to vehicle technician, each opportunity is much more than a conventional work placement in that it forms part of their pre-apprenticeship programme. This opportunity will allow applicants to prove their enthusiasm, commitment and passion for working with Arnold Clark. 

There are several general conditions to the pre-apprenticeship programmes:

  • All applicants must be at least 15 years old and in year 4 or above
  • All applicants must be looking to pursue a career in the area relevant to their work experience eg customer services
  • All applicants must be working towards the grades expected to join our Modern Apprenticeship Programme (pdf 8.29KB)

Applications can only be made through the pupil's guidance teacher, who will be able to provide additional information and an application form.


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

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