High-quality work experience
The TUC (Trade Union Congress) and The Prince’s Trust agree that high-quality work experience placements prepare young people for the workplace, help them gain employability skills and provide a route to an apprenticeship, paid employment or further study.
High quality work experience placements benefit young people through improving their skills and by boosting their confidence and motivation. Work experience placements also provide young people with an insight into the workplace.
Young people The Trust works with say that work experience is vital in helping them to find work, as it helps them to break the cycle of 'no experience - no job, no job - no experience'.
The TUC and The Trust agree that high quality work experience placements are good for young people provided that the following minimum requirements are met.
- They enable the young person to learn new skills
- The young person is safe whilst on the placement, meaning the employer must comply with all relevant health and safety legislation
- The young person is supported in the workplace on a day-to-day basis, where possible by a designated ‘buddy’
- The young person receives appropriate training, whether provided by the employer or by another organisation such as The Prince’s Trust
- The young person can raise any concerns they have whilst on placement, either with the employer or through the organisation which has arranged the placement (such as The Prince’s Trust), or through a union representative in the workplace
- Young people undertaking unpaid work experience are not used as a substitute for paid staff, ie they are not expected to contribute to the business to the same level as a paid employee, but are in the workplace to learn
- Costs, which might present a barrier to young people on low incomes participating, are alleviated - for example by providing specialist clothing and equipment, or making necessary food and travel arrangements.
- There is open access to the work experience opportunities and all reasonable steps are taken to ensure a diverse group of young people can take part
The appropriate level of structure and support will vary according to the length of the placement. For longer placements, for example as part of the Traineeship scheme where the placement can be several weeks long, it is reasonable for the employer to provide more feedback to the young person though regular meetings, to put in place a mechanism for more formal evaluation at the end of the placement, and to ensure careers advice is provided. For short placements a more informal approach can still ensure the above criteria are met and the young person can benefit from the placement.