Work Placement Unit

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.

Aberdeenshire Council carry out Health & Safety checks on all employers taking part in the work placement programme and the safety of pupils is always paramount.


News from the Work Placement Unit

Opportunities for All Newsletter

The current issue of the Opportunities for All newsletter can be viewed by clicking here

What Types of Work Placement are Available?

There are three routes open to pupils seeking a work placement.

Options 1 and 2 apply 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 & Safety visits required and to complete other administrative processes before the placements begin.

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 & Safety visits to be completed.

Option 1. 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 the form which is then returned to the pupil.

Self Found Form

Option 2. The pupil makes 3 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 3. The pupil chooses the Extended/Flexible placement option. The pupil or guidance teacher should make the initial approach. The typical placement of this type is for 1 or 2 days per week up to a period of 8 weeks (which may be continued if all parties are in agreement) although more intensive placements might be considered depending on the pupil's circumstances.

Below is some additional information on the procedures involved.

Work Placement Process Flowchart

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 & 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 & Safety Policy (if there are more than 5 employees.) For additional information please view the information below.

Guide for Employers on H&S Visit

If you are an employer who is interested in offering placements then please get in touch at or call (01224) 664905.


Case Study

Scott Horn, an Inverurie Academy pupil, has wanted to be a motor mechanic since primary school and selected I&K Motors for his work experience placement as it is a well-known local company and because his parents were satisfied customers.

His initial placement, in the service department, was for one week in September 2014 but Scott enjoyed his time at I&K so much that he was very keen to go return. With I&K Motors more than happy to have him back, Inverurie Academy and the Work Placement Unit created a flexible placement which allowed him to return every Wednesday from January to July 2015.

Scott Horn Pic Amended.jpg

As well as being given the opportunity to experience what a mechanic’s job involves, Scott has enjoyed working as part of a team. He has recently been working in the company’s tyre department which has allowed him to work with many different types of vehicles.

In August 2015 Scott returned to I&K Motors to begin a five days per week extended placement. This will combine four days at I&K Motors with one day at college. This day release at college will also form part of his apprenticeship with I&K Motors which will begin when he leaves school in December 2015.

Brian Poppe, who has been mentoring Scott on his placement, is very supportive of Aberdeenshire’s work placement scheme and said this complements I&K Motors’ policy of recruiting and training local young people (or ”Growing their own” as Brian puts it.) Although I&K Motors have been offering work experience opportunities for a number of years, Scott is the first work placement pupil to be recruited as an apprentice.

Aberdeenshire Council - Apprentices

In line with our commitment to the employment of young people, Aberdeenshire Council has implemented an ongoing programme of Apprenticeships across a variety of occupational areas. These have expanded from the traditional 4 year apprenticeships offered by the Council in positions such as electrician, joiner, painter and landscape to include the new style 1 and 2 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. 

We now have over 50 Apprentices and are keen to increase this number across the Council. For further information please call (01224) 664455 or email

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 4th year or above.
  • All applicants must be looking to pursue a career in the area relevant to their work experience e.g. Customer Services.
  • All applicants must be working towards the grades expected to join our Modern Apprenticeship programme (see below.)

Qualifications Required for Modern Apprenticeship Programme

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

Former Westhill Academy pupil Gwen Vicca decided she wanted to work with cars and successfully applied for the Arnold Clark apprenticeship scheme. Gwen had this to say about her apprenticeship:

I’ve always been into cars – I enjoy working with my hands and practical work like taking things apart and putting them back together. I knew a career with cars was what I was looking for. 

Once I found out I got the apprenticeship, I was slightly apprehensive being the only girl on my course but it’s not intimidating and I get on well with everyone. 

I plan to develop into a fully qualified technician, potentially working towards a qualification as a diagnostic technician. I’d encourage anyone interested in mechanics to consider an apprenticeship.

Work Placement Unit Newsletter 2016

Below you can view the most recent issue of the Work Placement Unit newsletter.

 Work Placement Newsletter 2016

Contact Details

Work Placement Unit
Education & Children's Services
Aberdeenshire Council
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
AB16 5GB

Tel: (01224) 664905 / 664871 / 664516 / 664632


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