Work Experience Programmes

Work experience is widely viewed as an effective way to prepare young people and adults for employment. The 2014 Employer Perspectives Survey showed two thirds (66%) of employers rate work experience as being of critical or significant value, ranking higher than academic skills. The survey results also indicated that an estimated 4 million work experience opportunities were offered in the UK in that year.

A range of programmes are currently run across government, whereby employers are expected to provide work experience opportunities, including those for young people at school, college students, university students and unemployed adults. Most recently, the Government outlined intentions to reform technical education in England and the availability of work placements (lasting 1-3 months) for learners on college-based technical routes will be central to the successful delivery of the reforms. This will represent a major change to the current post-16 system where work placements of a significant length are not commonplace and increase the expectation on employers to provide these opportunities.

This briefing paper for DfE provides an overview of programmes through which government currently seeks employer engagement in offering work experience/placement opportunities. It also describes the barriers and challenges to offering work experience opportunities, the benefits to employers of offering work experience opportunities, and outlines potential options for increasing the volume of work experience opportunities. The paper aims to inform a government approach to providing a coordinated support offer to employers.

The paper has been developed following a rapid desk research exercise, and draws on recent primary research completed by L&W on behalf of DfE on the implementation of work placements in technical education.