These are 6 weeks long and involve both “pre-employment training” and a work experience placement. You don't have to take part in them, but if you start and then drop out you could be sanctioned.
- Compulsory once you start
Claimants’ decision to take part is voluntary, but attendance becomes mandatory once a claimant has accepted a place.
Technically, only the training at the beginning and the job interview at the end are mandatory. (The job interview is ‘guaranteed’, unless the business decides you’re not suitable for the role.) The work experience placement is not mandatory.
Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are required to complete the pre-employment training and guaranteed job interview. Employment and Support Allowance (work-related activity group) claimants are required to complete the pre-employment training element only. In all instances, participants may be excused from completing the placement at any stage if the participating employer decides they are not suitable for the job on offer.
(Source: this Freedom of Information Request (2012)).
- Avoid being threatened with another workfare scheme if you drop out –do not start this scheme
Up until recently, if you started either a Work Experience or a Sector-Based Work Academy placement and then dropping out, this gave the job centre the right to send you on Mandatory Work Activity. MWA stopped in April 2016, and we don’t yet know if the job centre will use another scheme as a backup in a similar way.
But due to possible sanctions – and subsequent workfare referrals if you decide to stop the placements or academies – it is best to use your rights to not start a work experience placement or Sector-Based Work Academy. If you want to do work experience, do it outside the control of the job centre.