Home » Employers

Employers, Students and South Downs College

South Downs College works closely with over 1000 employers to improve the employability and progression skills of our students and your employees. There are lots of ways that you can work with the College to support the development of our students and your business.  Our dedicated Employer Engagement Team are there to help you make the most of the partnership.

“I would without a doubt recommend hiring an Apprentice through South Downs College. It has been a huge benefit to my company, and I urge others to invest in young people in this way”
David Brierly – CEO of Evolve – www.evolvepartnership.co.uk

Apprenticeships are delivered by our existing staff team working with a wide range of local employers and the current subject offer is continually under review.

Apprenticeships are designed for young people aged 16-23 (they are available for all ages but funding is more complex) and apprentices are fully employed and also commit to a full programme of study.  Apprenticeships include a main vocational qualification, normally supported by a technical certificate which provides underpinning knowledge.  In addition Apprentices complete Functional Skills in Maths, English and in many cases ICT, as well as an Employee Rights and Responsibilities element.

To start an Apprenticeship individuals do not necessarily need prior qualifications, but they must be capable of achieving the full programme.  All Apprentices will work on Maths and English until they achieve at least Grade C equivalents to aid their career progression.

Current  Apprenticeships include:

AAT Accounting   

Beauty Therapy              

Business Administration            

Customer Service                                                    

Design & Media

Early Years Educator (Childcare)



Food & Beverage Service


Hospitality and Catering                           





At South Downs College we pride ourselves on the employability skills we develop with our students and we are working with a partnership of colleges under the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to develop a high quality programme of Internships for students.   This programme complements our extensive work experience and volunteering programmes.

Internships are paid work experience opportunities lasting between 4 and 6 weeks.  Undertaking normal work activities within the business, an Internship would normally work around a project or report which the individual completes to support the wider business.  Recruitment is done on a competitive basis which the College supports to ensure that the right students are put forward for any application process which may involve formal interviews or by written application.

The College fully supports the Internship process, ensuring that this is a positive experience for the Student and the Employer, and working with the Employer to ensure that there is a real business impact from this supportive experience.

At the end of the Internship the Employer commits to providing a written Internship reference which may support the Students’ future applications for employment and higher education.

Professional Work Experience Opportunities

South Downs College recognises that while being fully supportive, some employers are not able to offer a full Internship.  Professional Work Experience is provided by employers who wish to support Students but may not be able to offer either the length of provision for an Internship or have a unique project which offers a special experience for students but cannot support this with pay (for example Not for Profit organisations and Charities).  We work closely with those employers to match these experiences to students.

Unpaid work experiences are not normally for longer than 2 weeks but each opportunity is viewed individually and some may be viewed as Volunteering experiences.

Work Experience

South Downs College offer over 2000 work experience opportunities in each academic year.  Students attend either for a 2 week period, or for some courses on a weekly work experience opportunity over all or part of the academic year with a supportive employer.

Students work alongside staff, carrying our real work tasks and supporting the general business.  They are additional to normal staff and as such are exempt from the National Minimum Wage (NMW), although some employers may support this experience with expenses or a small allowance.  At the end of the period of work experience Employers provide feedback on individual’s performance which may support them in their future career choices or in obtaining employment as well as supporting the completion of their course.

Traineeships (longer term work experience)

South Downs College are now offering Traineeships.  This is a programme lasting between 5 weeks and 5 months, with the main learning aim being work experience.  Employers offer the successful young person a sustained period of work experience (this might be a few hours a week or as much as 4 days a week) working alongside employed staff to obtain a real work experience opportunity which will help them prepare for employment.  Employers do not guarantee employment as a result of this programme, but some may use this as a way to recruit apprentices or other full and part time staff.  What employers do commit to is providing honest and constructive feedback on the individual’s performance so that the College can help them develop as potential employees.

Traineeships are unpaid and not required to be paid as they are exempt from the National Minimum Wage (NMW) but can receive an allowance or even a wage if that is appropriate.  The aim of the programme is to support the student into an Apprenticeship, employment or education but it is flexible to allow this at any point in the programme and ensure that individual students can take advantage of any opportunity (including temporary or part time opportunities) without loosing their place on the Traineeship.

At the end of the programme the Employer commits to providing written feedback on their performance over the period and their potential as an employee.  The aim of this feedback is to constructively support development or provide a real reference which will support future employment applications.


If you think you can support Internships, Traineeships or other work experience programmes or would like to talk about what an apprentice could do for your business please speak to the Employer Engagement Team on 02392 794661 or email apprenticeships@southdowns.ac.uk


South Downs College Cookie Warning Cookies are enabled on this site to enhance your browsing experience and usability.