Making the most of work experience

12 October 2015

Currently only one in four employers offer work experience and we don’t think that’s good enough. With increased competition for entry level jobs, high quality work experience has never been more important for young people. At Fair Train, we think that it’s important to make sure work experience is meaningful, and that it isn’t just about ‘making the tea’. Work experience can be the first step to a successful career, so it’s important to make it worthwhile.

Many people are either unaware of how work experience can benefit them, or are unable to find an opportunity of good enough quality. Work based education doesn’t mean photocopying and being the resident tea maker, it means real experience, with real people, gaining real expertise and qualifications.

Fair Train promotes the benefits of all types of work experience, including Apprenticeships, Traineeships and internships, as well as more traditional placements. We work with a wide range of employers and learning providers to encourage them to offer better quality work experience opportunities.

One of the ways in which we do this is by coordinating national Work Experience Week (12-16 October) each year – a week dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of high quality work experience and celebrating its full potential. It’s a chance for employers, learning providers and young people to showcase the positive work they are doing and to encourage more organisations to realise the benefits of work experience. Follow the conversation at #WEWeek2015 to see the range of activities taking place and look out for employers that have taken the Work Experience Week pledge. During the week, NIACE will also be promoting What Employers Want, its responsive website developed with young people and around 40 employers – including Barclays, Spirit Pubs and Topps Tiles – covering practical topics on how to complete application forms, prepare for job interviews and how to progress in careers.

One of the ways in which Fair Train supports organisations to offer high quality work experience to young people is through the national Work Experience Quality Standard, which is an independent quality accreditation.

It’s a national accreditation, which means that employers and learning providers across the country can apply for it. Not only does it clearly define what a high quality placement looks like, it verifies that the organisation is doing what it says when it comes to investing in young people. Our logo guarantees high quality placements which will cover important areas such as:

  • Making sure that placements are well-planned and thought out to meet young people’s aspirations, as well as the needs of the employer.
  • Setting out clear company policies so that young people know what to expect on their first day, such as dress code, punctuality, etc.
  • Assigning young people a mentor to support them to gain the most from their work experience placement.
  • Supporting young people to develop interview skills and improve their CV, to assist their transition to that all important paid job when the right time comes.

Young people can search for employers in their area accredited with the Work Experience Quality Standard, and can find more information and advice in our Fair Train Learner Guide to Work Experience.