Generally, work experience placements last one or two weeks, although some companies offer ‘insight days’, which are only a few days long. For the most part, they are unpaid but some companies choose to cover expenses up to £50 or £100 a week. Placements could be located throughout the country. At school, you will mostly be linked up with local organisations but some programmes may involve living away from home, with other people on the course.
Depending on how the placement is structured, you may find yourself working more or less as a member of staff for the few weeks you are there. Equally you may spend your time taking part in activities and exercises, designed to develop your skills, shadowing senior members of staff or attending workshops and talks by industry professionals.
Most importantly, work experience placements will teach you what it is like to work in an adult environment. More specifically, you will learn about a particular industry and company. You will better understand what employees do on a day-to-day basis, what kinds of jobs are available in certain industries and organisations and which skills are required for those jobs.
By the end of a work placement, you will hopefully have an idea of whether or not you would be interested in working the host company or industry and, if you would be, how best to go about it. Therefore, work experience can help you choose your A Levels, your higher education path and your future extra-curricular activities.
Even if you find that you are not interested in that particular industry, you will have learnt a number of transferable skills, which will help you when applying for future jobs, apprenticeships or university. You will have also had the opportunity to meet like-minded people and hopefully friends.
How to Find a Work Experience Placement:
The easiest way to find a work experience placement is through your school or college. The national curriculum states that work experience should take place in years 10 and 11 in the UK (4th year in Scotland) although it is not a requirement in schools in England. In recent years, students have also been urged to take part in work experience in the last few years of their education, through the government’s new 16-19 study programme. However, there are many schools, colleges and academies that do not offer work experience. Even where they do, they may not have any placements that correspond with your interests and needs.
If this is the case, do not worry. There are other ways to find work experience. Many large national companies offer their own work experience schemes. These are often quite competitive but only because they are very worthwhile and respected.
If you are still struggling to find work experience, check out Eluceo’s own network of local employers.