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Smart Futures

Get ready for the world of work

Smart Futures has helped me with one of the biggest barriers I have had in my life, I can finally walk into a room and feel like it doesn’t matter where I am from, I can do this.

What is Smart Futures?

Smart Futures is a 12-month programme which includes paid work experience, interactive employability skills training and mentoring for those in Year 12 or S5 in Scotland. The Smart Futures programme is supported by a range of different employers to suit different career ambitions and will help you develop key skills that are essential in the workplace.


The Smart Futures programme is run across many different locations in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.



What does the Smart Futures programme involve?

On the Smart Futures programme, you will:

  • Get real experience of the working world and take part in paid work experience with one of our employer partners, during the school holidays. Take a look at some of the companies you could be working with here
  • Benefit from up to two weeks of employability skills training and interactive workshops, including team-building introductory sessions where you will meet other young people on the programme
  • Have a mentor who will support you throughout the programme and beyond, advising you on your first steps into professional working life or university
  • Be invited to a series of alumni events as part of our 'Limitless Series', throughout your final year at school or college
  • Learn about different industries, organisations and working environments
  • Gain a wide variety of transferable skills to give you a head start in your career
  • Have opportunities to practice your networking skills

Choosing the right programme for you

The Smart Futures programme is supported by EY and a range of other employer partners across the UK. We offer some industry-specific programmes which offer tailored work-experience opportunities and insight into particular industries and sectors; however it doesn't matter if you don't know exactly what career you would like to go into, all of our Smart Futures programmes will give you a great experience of the world of work and will teach you lots of transferrable skills. 


All of the programmes below provide participants with paid work experience and employability skills training alongside the support of a business mentor.


Some of the different Smart Futures programmes we will offer in 2024 are:


Smart Futures Business and Finance

Sector: professional services

A programme for young people interested in a career at EY / professional services. The programme will help you take your first steps into a career in accounting, consulting, or other professional services and is appropriate for those who wish to apply for a high level / degree apprenticeship at the end of school or college.


Secure Futures

Sector: security

This programme offers the opportunity to gain experience in and an understanding of the variety of roles available in the security industry, keeping us safe online, in the workplace, at home, and in public spaces.


Tech Futures

Sector: technology

The technology and digital sector continues to grow as the world is shaped by virtual experiences. This specialist programme, supported by international technology companies, provides insight, work experience and mentorship from technology professionals developing the latest digital advancements.


Smart Futures with the Chartered Banker Institute

Sector: banking

Are you interested in pursuing a career within banking and finance? Join this programme to learn about the variety of roles available including branch banking, technology, sustainability, marketing, risk, and relationship management. Build an understanding of how banking works, develop your skills, make connections, and discover the opportunities that exist in this innovative and ever-changing industry.


Met Futures

Sector: public sector

Are you interested in finding out more about the wide range of corporate service roles and jobs provided by the Metropolitan Police? The Met Futures programme provides Year 12 students based in London with the opportunity to take part in a 3-week internship and business mentoring programme with the Metropolitan Police.


Impactful Futures

Sector: charity

The charity sector is a rewarding career option and one with a broad range of roles which can bring about positive change in society. Impactful Futures gives you the opportunity to learn more about and experience a fantastic career within this sector.


STEM Futures

Sector: science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Gain insight, knowledge and experience of careers linked to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through the STEM Futures programme.


Data Driven Futures: Actuaries

Sector: data, business analysts and risk

Actuaries are like superheroes for businesses. They perform a very cool job, but instead of possessing superhuman strength, they have a superhuman understanding of numbers and risks. Imagine you're organising a big outdoor birthday party. There could be lots of things that might go wrong, right? Rain could spoil the party, guests could arrive late, or too many people could show up. An actuary’s job is very similar. They look at all the things that could possibly go wrong in business scenarios - like launching a new product or offering a new insurance plan - and then use their mathematical skills to predict how likely these events are to happen and how much they could cost the company. This helps businesses plan better, save money, and make smart decisions for the future. 


Trade Futures

Sector: government / HMRC

This programme offers insights into working with the civil service and EY on a government consulting programme looking at Trade initiatives. You will have an opportunity to learn about the big issues affecting the UK, our borders and trade and meet the professionals working to solve these problems. Alongside a team of civil servants, you will develop an understanding of a civil service workplace within one of the UK government's largest agencies. 


Real Estate Futures

Sector: Real Estate

Step into the world of high rises and horizon-changing projects with Real Estate Futures, an immersive programme designed to increase your understanding of the property sector. Like urban planners of a future development, you'll gain the skills and insights to build a career that shapes our communities and cities. 

Can I be part of the Smart Futures programme?

To apply, you must be:

  • Eligible for free school meals at any time in the last two years. You can see if you are eligible using this tool


  • Eligible for a college bursary or Education Maintenance Allowance (where household income is less than £24,421)


  • In Year 12 (England) or Fifth Year (Scotland) and 16 or 17 years of age at the time the programme starts
  • Attending a state school
  • Studying any combination of A-level/International Baccalaureate/BTEC Level 3s/National 5/Highers
  • Ambitious and motivated to learn about the world of work
  • Looking for great paid work experience in the school holidays that will help you secure a job after school, or a place at university

*For Smart Futures Professional Services, applicants also need a C/equivalent grade in GCSE English Language, C/equivalent in GCSE Maths, and to be on track for 112 UCAS points with their top 3 A Levels/5 Highers. Candidates also need to have an interest in applying for a high level / degree apprenticeship at the end of school/college.

How to apply

Our 2023/24 academic programmes are now closed. Please check back from September 2024 for applications for our 2024/25 programmes.


of our young people said they were extremely or very confident that the support they received will help them get a job after education.*
of our young people rated the Smart Futures programme as Good or Excellent after taking part.*

* out of 284 respondents

Are you an employer?

If you are an employer or business owner interested in supporting our Smart Futures programmes, learn more about how you can help now.