Case Study

Widening local participation through partnering with The Prince's Trust

Read about how a Manchester trust is supporting more young people into employment through its new partnership with The Prince's Trust.

5 January 2023


By partnering with The Prince’s Trust, Manchester University Foundation Trust (MFT) hopes to increase the number of young people it supports into work through its well established pre-employment programme. The programme equips people from across the local community with the knowledge and skills needed to gain a job within the organisation.

Key benefits and outcomes

  • Out of the 150 learners on the MFT pre-employment programme prior to the Prince’s Trust partnership, 120 were young people, aged 16 to 29 years old.

  • 51 per cent of learners were from the most deprived areas, according to the indices of multiple deprivation.

  • 92 per cent of learners progressed to employment, following completion of the programme.

  • 39 per cent of learners placed onto the staffing bank following the programme progressed into a substantive role after nine months.

  • The trust learned that starting employment checks at the beginning of the programme allows for a quicker transition from placement to employment.

What the organisation faced

MFT's long-established pre-employment programme attracts people from all age groups across its local community. In 2022, the trust partnered with the Prince’s Trust to increase the number of local young people the programme supports into sustained employment.

The employability team, part of the widening participation team at the trust, also identified that employment checks could take up to six weeks to complete. This delay in the hiring process meant that following completion of their work placements, young candidates were at risk of seeking employment elsewhere.

What the organisation did

Through partnership with The Prince’s Trust, funding is made available for MFT to support additional staff on the employability team and focus efforts on helping young people aged 16 to 30 access employment support at MFT.

Young people are referred to MFT from several partner organisations, such as the local voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE), Manchester leaving care team, Manchester Youth Opportunities Group and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Young people can also approach the team directly and MFT distributes marketing materials to agencies and partners promoting recruitment events and open days.

Depending on the skills, experience and desired career pathway of the individual, the employability team allocates them onto one of the following pathways:

  1. Pre-employment programmes are offered to young people with limited work experience. These include a four-week, college-based training course and a five-week work placement. Learners undertake a variety of placements in nursing, pharmacy, facilities, labs and business and administration, depending on vacancies.

  2. A placement-only programme is offered to young people with more work experience and higher confidence.

  3. One-to-one support is offered to young people who may have extensive work experience, do not want to undertake a placement and may already be working but wish to gain employment in the NHS. The employability team supports with job search, applications and interviews.

College training

MFT has built strong relationships with local training providers. The Manchester College hosts learners for a two-to-four-week classroom-based training course. The college also delivers Prince’s Trust programmes separately, which serves as a referral route to MFT placements and opportunities.

The college develops the scheme of works for each programme in partnership with MFT. They also support delivering recruitment and open days as well as interviewing candidates for enrolment onto a programme.

As learners progress through the college training, they undertake pre–employment checks prior to placements. This ensures they are safe to be on placement and can move into paid employment as quickly as possible following completion of the programme.

The following checks are completed prior to the placement:

  • NHS employers ID check

  • right to work

  • work health assessment

  • criminal record.

Employment history, qualifications and references are started at the beginning of the college training but can be completed while the learner is on placement. The employability team visits the learners at the training college on average one day a week, to support completion of forms and collection of necessary documentation.

Candidates complete a short application form on Trac, set up specifically for the programme. They are given a learners’ guide on how to complete the application form. The guide provides an explanation for each requirement on the form to help candidates understand the process.


Employability team responsibilities:

  • Source and secure placements by approaching managers or key contacts within the trust.

  • Provide managers with a one-page, pre-employment guide, reinforcing key stages within the programme and reminding them of responsibilities when receiving learners for the five-week placement.

  • Post placement - support and encourage learners to apply for paid positions with MFT.

  • Work with learners post placement who were not able to secure a substantive role or found to be unsuitable.

Placement host / hiring manager responsibilities:

  • Support the recruitment and selection of candidates entering the pre-employment programme (optional).

  • Provide job descriptions and placement opportunities.

  • Determine the level of vaccinations learners must have prior to starting their placement.

  • Undertake vacancy assessments to determine if roles can be offered directly to learners post placement.

  • Create hidden vacancy posts on TRAC if suitable posts are identified for learners and conduct interviews as the learners transition to employment.

  • If a learner is deemed suitable post placement and there are no vacancies in the department, refer the learner to the NHS professional team if a role can be offered using the staffing bank.

Key touch points for engaging young people

  • The employability team visits learners on average once a week during the college training course and supports with completion of employment checks.

  • Learners have a familiarisation visit for their placement led by the employability team which helps introduce learners to their new working environment and line manager.

  • The team helps set up the learners' accounts for mandatory training and emails, and assists with collecting ID badges prior to start of placement.

  • The employability team provides continuous pastoral support to the learner while they are on a five-week placement. The level of support is based on the needs of the individual.

  • The employability team manages the learners move to employment and if no suitable vacancy is allocated, they find other opportunities within the trust or may refer learners to outside assistance for further support.

Results and benefits

  • In year 2021/22, the pre-employment programme supported more than 150 people, 120 of those were young people aged 16-29 years old (79 per cent). Following completion of the programme, 92 per cent of learners progressed to employment.
  • The employability team was able to help 31 per cent of learners onto NHS Professionals staff bank. The bank was used if learners did not have a substantive post to follow placement or if learners preferred to join the bank pool because of their circumstance.
  • A follow up at nine months after placing learners on the staff bank showed 37 per cent progressed to a substantive role.
  • The team plans to expand its offer to young people through its new partnership with the Prince’s Trust, with a target of supporting 52 16-30 year-olds into sustained employment for three months or more by the end of 2022/23.
  • MFT’s pre-employment programme is overrepresented with people with protected characteristics. Males make up 42 per cent, the BAME community makes up 42 per cent and over half of learners were from the top decile of indices of multiple deprivation.

Overcoming obstacles

The employability team aimed to provide one-to-one mentoring for young candidates directly. With a small team of seven, managing multiple widening participation tasks and mentoring on a one-to-one basis was time consuming and limited the quality of support offered to the young people.

The team has now decided to introduce a monthly group support session to help candidates with job search, applications and interviewing, and this is followed with more tailored one-to-one support as necessary.

Top tips

  • Build relationships with NEET (not in education, employment, or training) providers and other youth partners such as local leaving care teams to bolster referral routes for young candidates.

  • Take the opportunity to work with your local authority, which has networks that connect with minority groups and can reach out to them.

  • Front load employment checks prior to young learners starting placements to reduce delays in gaining substantive employment.

  • Offer one-to-one, personalised support to young people. Help them understand the commitment required and the need for employment checks. This helps avoid young people disengaging during the programme.

  • Put yourselves in their shoes – when you haven’t had a job, what did you need to know?

Further information

For more information about the work in this case study, contact Jamie Bytheway, Head of Widening Participation at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, at