To showcase new understanding of the value of work experience within the (UK school) education system; for young adults in particular; and how it can best be delivered the UK Commission for Employment and Skills; the Chartered Institute for Personal and Development (CIPD); and charity the Education and Employers Taskforce jointly held a special event on Thursday afternoon 19 April 2012 at Church House, Dean's Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3NZ.
The speakers on the topic ‘Work Experience: a new approach’ include:
- Brian Lightman—General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders—said: "There is no doubt in my mind that work experience can make a significant difference to the motivation, attainment and progression of students. As a head teacher I have seen attitudes to school of many young people completely transformed as a result of their highly positive experience on a placement."
- James Wates, UKCES Commissioner and CEO Wates Construction
- Katerina Rudiger, Skills Policy Adviser, CIPD
- Dr Anthony Mann, Director of Policy and Research, Education and Employers Taskforce
Attendees would each have received a printed copy of the full research report Work Experience: Impact and Delivery – insights from the evidence and a copy of the “Employers and schools working together – employers perceptions” report.
Barnardo's Deputy Chief Executive, Jane Stacey, says: “It gives young people, particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, an invaluable opportunity to gain confidence and skills as they prepare to enter the toughest labour market since the 1980's.”
The UK Press Association reports that according to the study “there is a clear link between work experience at school and job prospects in later life”. The UK Press Association further reports that “a group of experts and policy makers have called for an increase in the quality and quantity of placements”.
The UK employment minister Chris Grayling, highlighted the different benefits of work experience, based on the report by the Education and Employers Taskforce charity and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). He also said: "I strongly support the concept of work experience because of the significant impact it can have on job prospects for young people through giving them an insight into the world of work, together with practical skills and knowledge based in a real world environment”.
A whopping 68% of teachers are of opinion that learners “returned from work experience more motivated to try harder at school”. Work placements helped 66% of learners to “how to go about achieving their career goals”.
In the light of the aforesaid it is of concern to note “that changes to work experience entitlement mean that many schools are considering moving away from organising work experience for some teenagers”. The changes are being driven by the UK government that is repealing the statutory requirement to work-related learning for 14-16 old learners resulting in schools having to bear the full costs of organising work-placements. Government is encouraging work experience for 16-19 year olds instead.
Nick Chambers, director of the Education and Employers Taskforce, states that traditionally more than ½million 15 year olds return after their Easter holidays intending to do two-weeks of work- placement with an employer.
Half (or a ¼million) of these placements are found by young people themselves or their families by making use of existing social networks. This may result in an unfair advantage to the children of well connected families. Relying on informal networks questions how children growing up in workless families are going to gain work experience, if the work experience depends on the family links with workplaces. “Those arguing for an improved system say they want to make sure work experience opens new doors rather than reinforces old divisions.” says Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent. A more systematic approach, which does not rely on the networking skills of parents and friends, is argued for. If not, the potential value and benefits of work experience, among others in improving social mobility, can be lost.
Educationally effective work experience placements need proper planning and need to be matched to the needs of learners.