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Work Experience – Tips for Employers | HR Expert
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The benefits of work experience

Work experience is vital to young people at school, college and as they enter the labour market. It helps young people to make the transition from education into working life by giving them:

  • first-hand experience of the workplace and insight into jobs and sectors
  • increased confidence and employability skills
  • experience to build their CVs and access to networks
  • an understanding of how recruitment works
  • insight into how their skills and abilities translate to the workplace.

For employers, offering work experience is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Recruitment opportunities and building talent pipelines: work experience placements enable employers to access a wider range of talent while also making a useful contribution to strategic talent management and workforce planning.
  • Fresh ideas: young people offer new ideas and ways of thinking, reflecting the interests and needs of the next generation of customers and consumers.
  • Staff development: offering work experience placements can provide opportunities for existing staff to supervise and mentor a young person, therefore helping to develop their management and other professional and personal skills.
  • More engaged workforce: providing work experience sends a positive message to the wider workforce about the values of the organisation. Engagement with the local community helps boost local economic development and can also lead to increased brand loyalty and profile, and in turn to greater profits.

Why does work experience matter?

Young people are among the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market because they lack the experience of the workplace and the job-specific skills that employers ask for. Work experience is something employers value, alongside attitude, almost more than qualifications.

Over the last generation, there have been unprecedented changes with traditional jobs and industries disappearing and being replaced by a more varied landscape in an increasingly global economy. Also, with the increase in the cost of higher education, the financial penalties for making the wrong career decisions are higher than ever before. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of careers information in schools, particularly in schools in disadvantaged areas which may not have access to parental and alumni networks.

Work experience can help to challenge employer perceptions of young people’s skills and attitudes, give young people access to networks and help them to make more informed career choices.

Research by the Education and Employers Taskforce, It’s Who You Meet (2012), shows that the more contact young people have with employers, the better their chances of finding themselves in employment. This is a win-win situation for everyone:

  • Employers get the skills they need.
  • Young people gain access to the labour market.
  • Society can avoid the negative consequences and long-term scarring of high
  • youth unemployment.

Practical tips

Employers and schools both have a role to play in building the transition from education into the world of work. An understanding of the world of work should be built into the delivery of education. Research shows that state schools and colleges are keen to work more closely with employers. As an employer you can:

  • Contact your local school or college directly.
  • Contact your local business and education partnership, who can broker the first step for you and put you in touch with your local school or college, or arrange activities for you to get involved in.