Work experience is a great opportunity for young people and students to have their first taste of careers and encounter what it’s like to work in a company or organisation.
For many students, this may be the first time they have experienced a job from the inside. Especially those from a lower socioeconomic background who may have had less exposure to ‘traditional careers’ from parents. It can be a great way to motivate young people, giving them a chance to visualise what the future might look like. From this, they may be more willing to set goals of how to get there, like studying for exams or taking part in extra-curricular activities.
As a school or college, you can decide the parameters of the ‘work experience’, but to give the best opportunity for young people to learn from a job, we recommend allowing two weeks for work experience during the academic year.
Many schools decide to have this period closer to the end of the year, in the summertime, as this can be a quiet time for businesses and schools are often coming to the end of their curriculum. However, it is entirely up to you; you may even choose to place it just before Christmas, or in January to motivate students into the new year.
Lots of students enjoy going out into the world of employment and finding a work experience placement that suits them. For example, they may choose to ask for opportunities from people in a career they are interested in or at a club or society they are part of. However, for some students, this can be a daunting task. As a school or college, it’s essential to provide support for finding work experience, to ensure that all students can find a suitable and enjoyable work placement.
You can support students in several ways:
- Get in touch with local businesses, authorities and institutions that might be able to take on students, especially those who are known for employing apprentices. If you get in touch with a large company early enough, they may be able to guarantee you a certain number of places, which you can hold on to and offer to those students who don’t find anything themselves.In addition to providing work experience for your students, this is an excellent way to build relationships with the local community, which could result in further work experience placements, jobs or apprenticeships for students later down the line.
- Offer placements within the school or college. There are so many roles within an educational environment which might be of interest to some of your students, especially those who might not feel confident enough to go into an unknown company. For example, you could offer placements with the finance and administration team, or even with technicians in your creative departments such as drama and art.
- Speak to parents! There will be so many parents who work for or own businesses that are willing to take on work experience students. As parents, the chances are they will want to help get the best possible opportunities for the students and may be able to put you in contact with other companies in the area.
For more information on Work Experience, visit our guide to Finding the Right Work Experience.