Work experience should be top of the agenda for National Careers Week

6th March 2018

This week marks National Careers Week, an important date in the calendar for schools, colleges, universities, teachers and careers professionals. It is a week that highlights the importance of good careers education and supporting young people leaving education.

It provides a great opportunity to shout out about the value of work experience and for this year’s National Careers Week (#NCW2018), Placer is encouraging more businesses to make a pledge and offer work experience opportunities.

Why work experience?

Work experience and the benefits it holds for both students and employers cannot be disputed. There’s much research out there that outlines the benefits for both groups.

For employers, work experience offers a range of benefits from good branding for the company, to bringing in new energy and perspectives.

And for students it adds considerable clout to their CV, gives valuable real-life experience in the working world and can often kick-start a career.

How does work experience, work for employers?

There are many rewards that a business can gain through offering work experience and more employers should be aware of the opportunities that it can provide.

Firstly, work experience is a low-cost route to accessing the next generation of talent and candidates can act as an additional resource. But, as well as being part of a great recruitment strategy, it also offers opportunities to develop existing staff, engage with the local community, and bring in fresh new perspectives.

When a student comes into a company on a work experience programme, they need guidance and a mentor. Through this, employees develop their own supervisory skills when looking after a candidate. This in turn helps boost the morale of an existing team as employees feel valued. 

Offering work experience opportunities to undergraduates is also a great way to expose a student to a company’s brand. Giving them a first look at what a career in a chosen industry entails, and offering them a quality experience, will help create real advocates for a company’s mission and values.

What do students gain from work experience?

No matter how much students learn about a chosen career in the classroom, work experience offers them practical training and teaches them the skills that will boost their employability status and benefit their career progression in the long run.

No matter if it is a day, a week, or a couple of months, work experience helps students begin to build their own networks which they can make use of when they are beginning to start their career.

Work placements also gives students a first insight into a career path, as well as allowing them to work with professionals in a field where they can ask valuable questions. This two-way interaction can help students understand job specifics and skills requirements and identify new developments in the industry that they should be aware of - this direct and specialist knowledge will set students apart from other candidates when it comes to the graduate job market.

In a report, from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), 66% of employers have stated that when they are recruiting they see work experience as a significant factor.

So, with two-thirds of employers strongly valuing work experience in a candidate, more students need to also recognise this value and equip themselves with the employability skills businesses demand, before they start their career.

Don’t miss out on opportunity

Access to work experience needs to be improved. There is a significant shortfall in the number of opportunities available for the 2.3 million university students in the UK.

Platforms such as Placer – a new work experience app – is designed to boost the number of opportunities to students and helps directly connect businesses with university students through the power of new blind matchmaking technology. The app enables employers to offer high quality work experience to tap into the talents of thousands of passionate and highly-adaptive students.

Through work experience, we can together develop and progress the skills of the next generation which is vital for not only business growth but also the UK economy. So this National Careers Week think about how you can start, or improve, your work experience programme.

If you’re an employer looking to offer work experience, or you already do, find out more and register with Placer 

David Docherty is Chairman of Placer and CEO of the National Centre for Universities and Businesses (NCUB)

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