Toolkit Unwrapped, On-the-job training: Explore how employers can transform the lives of marginalised young people through in-work training

Mar 25, 2024

Join us as we demystify what ‘on-the-job training’ really is, in our next Toolkit Unwrapped, and explore how employers can transform the lives of marginalised young people through supported internships, traineeships and in-work training.  

Wednesday the 27th of March marks National Supported Internship Day, celebrating a holistic employment intervention which has proven to transform the lives of young people with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition, by providing 12-month work placements with employers. 

Youth Futures grantee DFN Project SEARCH has gone from strength to strength in its mission to engage employers and to create meaningful opportunities for young people with a learning disability to gain experiences of the workplace and to move into permanent employment under their programmes. Working in partnership with employers, such as Amazon, HMRC and the NHS, they provide placements in a variety of industries and places, whilst challenging and changing workplace cultures which act as barriers to young people with learning disabilities. 

This is an approach that delivers for young people, with over 60% of DFN Project SEARCH’s programme participants ending up in permanent work. As an approach there is much that employers can learn, something that we highlight within the Youth Employment Toolkit 

When looking at studies on broader on-the-job training programmes, the evidence in our Toolkit tells us that this type of training is likely to have a very high positive impact on youth employment outcomes for young people who face additional barriers to employment with, on average, for every two young people facing additional barriers who can take part in a programme, one will get a job who wouldn’t have done so without the intervention. 

But what does on-the-job training actually mean and does a young person need to be in a paid role to receive on-the-job training? We know, from our recent survey of businesses with Savanta in 2023, that ‘on-the-job training’ as a term can be confusing for employers in itself. Other terms used include traineeships, internships, vocational training, in-work training, informal skills development and others. But as much as what it’s called can be ambiguous, it’s the quality of the training provided that is the key factor in its success.  

From the survey, we heard that over 43% of employers said that they’d prefer to offer apprenticeships than on-the-job training, as the training element would be the responsibility of a training provider and not on them. Whereas 90% of large and medium employers felt that training employees in-house could provide the specialist skills needed in their companies. Whilst we recognise that employers may need some support to understand and act on what high-quality on-the-job training looks like, we see this evidence as a clear opportunity for employers to seize the opportunity to provide quicker ways of upskilling and supporting new employees, providing meaningful employment opportunities to those who face marginalization and workplace barriers, whilst they adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the company. 

In our Toolkit Unwrapped, we explore the evidence-based best practice guidance that employers can consider when initiating or enhancing their on-the-job training offerings. 


Click through to our resources to learn more about on-the-job training and how your organization or company could take the first steps to enhancing your youth employment offering.  


Check out the work of these employers who are using on-the-job training to their advantage: 

Steve Day, Operations Manager at Amazon: 

“No two people will tackle the same problem in exactly the same way. So that wealth and breadth of experience and knowledge that supported internships bring to our company really enhances the ability of Amazon to be what it is in terms of its performance, its problem solving, its ability to adapt.” 

Look out for the next in our Toolkit Unwrapped series… combining Basic Skills and Life Skills, dropping in May 2024.  

Skip to content