On the job experience and how it can help you

From shadowing to volunteering, find out how working in the job you want can be very useful.

What you will learn

  • The benefits of hands-on work experience in a sector that interests you
  • The different ways you can obtain on-the-job experience and acquire skills that employers look for in potential candidates
  • Your funding options if you’re concerned about unpaid training
Person working in a workshop carrying a roll of fabric on their shoulder

Work-based training is a hands-on way to prepare you for your career. It gives you a chance to develop skills while putting them into practice and gain confidence in a working environment.

It’s a great first step in your chosen career, a way to get experience in a new area and also just a good way to keep developing your skills.

If you’re already working your employer may be able to help support your learning and development. If you’re unemployed, demonstrating the skills gained through work experience and training can really boost your CV.

Find out some of the best ways you can do this.


Volunteering allows you to gain work experience, network and gives you the opportunity to explore an area that interests you or something completely different before you commit. It’s generally unpaid but some volunteering opportunities provide training that will help you to build skills that could lead to paid employment.

Read more about volunteering and search for opportunities on My World of Work or if you have been unemployed for a long time speak to your Work Coach at Jobcentre Plus about arranging a work placement for you. 


Developing your skills through further training, whether that’s on the job, online or at a learning centre, can provide significant benefits for your career. Training doesn’t just provide you will new or enhanced skills, it also helps you build your network and can lead to a formal qualification too.

If you feel like you need some training to take your career to the next level speak to your employer about what kind of training your company offers. If there’s nothing available, or you’re unemployed, you might want to look at other options such as uni, college or courses with community training providers.

You might even be able to get help with funding for some courses.

  • Individual Training Accounts (ITA)

If you’re unemployed or on a low income you  could get up to £200 towards the cost of an eligible training course through a Skills Development Scotland Individual Training Account, as long as you meet the set criteria.

This is offered at certain times throughout the year. Visit our ITA page to see if it’s available now and whether you’re eligible.

  • Part-time fee grant 

If you earn less than £25,000, SAAS offer a grant to cover your tuition fees. You need to be studying an eligible part-time higher-education course or Continuing Professional Development at levels 7-10.

Visit http://saas.gov.uk for more information on eligibility and applying. 

  • National Transition Training Fund

The National Transition Training Fund is available to help you prepare for a new career. Run by Skills Development Scotland, the scheme offers short sharp training opportunities. 

If you’re over 25 and facing redundancy or have already been made redundant, this is a great chance to gain an industry recognised qualification.

  • FutureLearn

FutureLearn has been set up to help you upskill for your current job or reskill for a new role.

The Scottish Government has provided funding for 10,000 adults to access FutureLearn. You’ll receive access for up to 12 months.

To sign up, you must be aged 25 and over and living in Scotland.

  • The Employability Fund 

The Employability Fund supports people towards employment through a number of local training programmes.

It responds to the needs of employers and local labour markets to provide people with real life work experience. For more information have a look at the Employability Fund page on Skills Development Scotland's website.

  • Apprenticeships 

Apprenticeships are designed to help you learn by getting hands-on experience with an employer. There’s different type of apprenticeships you can do, depending on what stage you’re at and are not just available to school leavers. If you’re already employed speak to your employer to find out if they can support you through an apprenticeship.

Whether you’re thinking about the future, job hunting, or want to learn new skills, a Modern Apprenticeship could be for you. With a Modern Apprenticeship you learn on the job and get the experience you need. Plus, you work towards a qualification accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

A Graduate Apprenticeship also helps you build the skills and knowledge for your role. You'll work, get paid, and achieve a degree. With a Graduate Apprenticeship you'll spend most of your time learning on the job but will also be a student at a university or college.

Find out more about the different types of apprenticeships at Apprenticeships.scot

Some other articles you may find helpful

Upskilling through learning, training and volunteering

Discover the many benefits of taking an online learning course or signing up for a volunteering position through My World of Work.

How to sell yourself in applications

Learn how to come across well to your future employers and secure that next stage interview.

Where to start researching your career

Here are some ways you can find out about relevant careers with your new qualification.