8 Aug 2022
How offering Work Experience to Young People Benefits Employers
The upheavals of the pandemic have accelerated and thrown into sharp focus various long-term trends in the world of work, mirroring changes in wider society. Alexander Ash recently had two local students in on work placement - Olivia and Reilly. It was a great experience for us all, they had hands-on training from the AA team, researching and working on live roles, and got to experience a lively, busy office and we got to remember what it was like to be 17.
Reilly and Olivia both proved to be responsive, adaptable and open to new ideas and clearly demonstrated they will be leaders of the future. They both expressed they were delighted to have to chance to gain new experiences and build relationships. We are really proud of them!
Offering young people these opportunities has strategic importance to equip them with the skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship for their futures.
Are you an employer in a firm that offers work experience opportunities to young people? Many companies work with schools to offer work experience programmes to school pupils in Year 10 and, increasingly, companies are also offering short work experience programmes to students who have completed their GCSEs or who are already in Further Education.
If you are already well acquainted with the experience of having young people come into your workplace for a few days then you probably already know some of the advantages this can bring to your firm. If post-GCSE work experience is not something you have thought about previously, however, it could be a great move for your company to introduce a programme.
These days, many of the United Kingdom’s top companies have post-GCSE work experience programmes in place and there must be a reason for this? Why have they gone to the trouble of designing and implementing these opportunities for students and school leavers?
Let’s first take a look at what work experience is and then some of the benefits employers see when they open their doors to young people. Is this a strategy you could consider for your own company?
When you have a young person in your workplace, doing work experience programme, they need guidance and perhaps even a mentor. As an employer, you benefit from work experience because the morale of your existing team is boosted.
Your employees develop their own supervisory skills as they look after the work experience person and, in turn, feel valued in the workplace. I have written in the past about the challenges of keeping employees engaged and putting staff in charge of school leavers and students who are there to do work experience can be a great way to keep them engaged.
So as well as staff engagement, you are also giving your team opportunities to show any leadership qualities. This means you could find better ways to use those staff so that both they and the company benefit further down the line.
Another benefit to the employer of creating work experience programmes does not necessarily have to cost you. There is no legal requirement for you to pay the students or school leavers you have in your workplace. They are there to learn for a few days. Having said that, a lot of employers do like to help out a little by offering travel expenses and perhaps paid lunches.
If you are offering work experience in competitive fields such as media or law, for example, lots of young people are going to be willing to travel to get to work or your firm for a few days. It can be really beneficial if you can offer travel expenses because your candidate can get to the workplace and you might also spot your next young recruit. You don’t want to miss out on young talent just because those people have no way of getting to you
Young people with little or no experience in the workplace are not a burden but can be a breath of fresh air If you have always tackled some issues from the same angle, a young student or school leaver could offer a completely different perspective. They might not have the practical experience just yet but they can bring a whole new dynamic and energy to your team.
Today’s students and school leavers have grown up with the technology that you, yourself, might have been on courses to try to understand or perhaps you have sent staff on courses, too. Whilst you may have worked hard to get your head around the fast moving world of technology, much of this will be second nature to your young work experience assistant.
With social media, for instance, you could pick up some valuable tips for using it more effectively – especially for getting the attention of that younger audience you want to attract. Employers could also benefit from young people offering different online research skills and even more specialised IT skills that could transform the way a part of your company operates.
Your business will not be stagnant or stuck in its ways anymore if you have fresh new talent in the workplace whose ideas you are willing to take on board.
Yes, if you are looking to attract a younger diverse workforce to your company, then offering work experience programmes is a great way to go about this. And if your student or school leaver proves to be a great catch, why not try and keep hold of them by offering them a permanent role such as an apprenticeship or part time role whilst they are at university? If you don’t have a large recruitment budget, work experience is a good way to hook this young talent.
Young people are like sponges and come to your workplace having not picked up other habits from working at previous companies. If you can attract them to your firm, then you get the opportunity to mould them into the team you want. This reduces your cost of bringing in more experienced, skilled professionals.
Employers also benefit financially in the recruitment stakes because both you and your student or school leaver can see whether you are a good match for each other throughout the work experience programme. This minimises the recruitment risk of taking on the wrong candidate and then having to go through the whole, time consuming and expensive recruitment process again. You have seen for yourself how the young person performs in your workplace so you are not just relying on a CV with GCSE results or other qualifications.
Offering work experience opportunities to students and school leavers not only promotes your the company you work for but also promotes the whole industry you are working in. Many industries in the United Kingdom are facing a skills shortage and also lack a young, dynamic image that draws in young people.
Some industries such as travel and tourism, for example, are much easier to promote than chemical engineering might be. Offering work experience gives young people the opportunity to have a ‘taster session’ of what goes on within your industry.
Whether school leavers or students, young people have barely left the classroom and so, when they do work experience, they tend to mature and are able to make more informed choices about their future careers.
Young people who have done a work experience stint are more likely to remain within that industry and, if you are in a position to offer permanent work such as apprenticeships or school leaver programmes, that person is more likely to remain with your company.