National Council for Work Experience launches SME Quality Mark

A national standard for work experience provision for SMEs is being launched by the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE).

The NCWE Quality Mark (QM) recognises companies that offer quality internships but, so far, this seal of approval has only been available to large organisations. The growth of the scheme to include SMEs will help those businesses attract and compete for some of the best graduate talent.

Jo Denye, quality advisor at the NCWE explains: “The employability of graduates is hugely topical as businesses increasingly expect them to have some understanding of the world of work. As a result, the demand for internships has risen and we’ve particularly seen more interest from smaller companies, either wanting to start schemes or be recognised as providing a quality experience.

“We’ve created a quality mark specifically for SMEs to not only help them achieve the recognition they deserve, but also enable them to compete with larger companies for graduate talent. The accreditation process has been tailored so it works for this market, and we are already putting a handful of businesses through the scheme.”    

 The SME QM consists of six elements and to achieve the accreditation, companies must demonstrate they meet specific criteria for each area. It enables companies to:

  • Reduce recruitment and training costs by viewing interns as potential hires without commitment
  • Enhance productivity by knowledge transfer on specific projects
  • Benchmark existing programmes
  • Maintain the company’s reputation via student recommendations
  • Bring new ideas and fresh perspectives into the business


The NCWE Quality Mark provides a national framework for improving work experience. It was established in 2005 and current accredited organisations include IBM, BP and Marks and Spencer. Further information can be found by emailing or at

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