Generally, work experience placements last one or two weeks, although some companies offer ‘insight days’, which are only a few days long. For the most part, they are unpaid but some companies choose to cover expenses up to £50 or £100 a week. Placements could be located throughout the country. At school, students will mostly be linked up with local organisations but some programmes may involve living away from home, with other people on the course.
During a work experience placement, a young person may be expected to work much like a normal member of staff or they may be expected to follow a specifically designed programme of activities, exercises, workshops and shadowing, designed to develop their skills.
Broadly speaking, work experience placements teach young people what it is like to work in an adult environment and specifically, how a particular industry and company functions. They will better understand what employees do on a day-to-day basis, what kinds of jobs are available in certain industries and organisations, and which skills are required for those jobs.
A work placement, should give the young person involved an idea about whether or not they would be interested in working the host company or industry and, if they would be, how best to go about it. Therefore, work experience can help them choose their A Levels, their higher education path and their future extra-curricular activities.
Even if they find that you are not interested in that particular industry, they will have learnt a number of transferable skills, which will help them when applying for future jobs, apprenticeships or university. They will have also had the opportunity to meet like-minded people and hopefully friends.
How to Find a Work Experience Placement:
The easiest way to find a work experience placement is through school or college. The national curriculum states that work experience should take place in years 10 and 11 in the UK (4th year in Scotland), although it is not a requirement of schools in England. In recent years, students have also been urged to take part in work experience in the last few years of their education, through the government’s new 16-19 study programme. However, there are many schools, colleges and academies that do not offer work experience. Even where they do, they may not have any placements that correspond with your child’s interests and needs.
If this is the case, do not worry. There are other ways to find work experience. Many large national companies offer their own work experience schemes. These are often quite competitive but only because they are very worthwhile and respected.
If your child is still struggling to find work experience, check out Eluceo’s own network of local employers.