Work experience is vital to young people at school, college and as they enter the labour market. It helps young people to make the transition from education into working life by giving them:

  • first-hand experience of the workplace and an insight into jobs and sectors
  • increased confidence and employability skills
  • experience to build their CVs and access to networks
  • an understanding of how recruitment works
  • insight into how their skills and abilities translate to the workplace

As it helps so many young people - 29% of employers say work experience is critical when recruiting young people, while a further 45% say that it is significant - as many companies as possible should be offering some form of work experience, however currently on 29% currently do. If you are one of those that don't, here are a few reasons extra reasons why you might like to consider it, and ways in which it can help your company:

Market insights & customer base

Young people often bring new ideas and ways of thinking which open up new and emerging customer groups and markets, reflecting the needs of the next generation. A younger perspective is valuable where markets are rapidly changing or rely on a youthful customer base. 

Value for money 

Young staff are cost effective to recruit and train, while offering young people work placements can serve as an informal trial period both for you and for young people. This means that any decision to commit to a permanent position will be an informed one on both sides. Even if you can’t offer your young person a job, the experience of work they will have gained means that your community or sector will benefit from an increased pool of work-ready recruits. 

Staff retention

As you’ve invested in young people, they’ll be more likely to be committed and loyal to your company.  Nurturing and unlocking young people’s talent will motivate and engage them even further. People who have bought in to the company values and culture from the start, and who have trained and progressed with a business, are more likely to stay with that business. For you, this helps maintain productivity and reduce further recruitment costs. 

Staff development & engagement

Growing your own talent by working with young people helps with succession planning as it reduces the risks associated with unplanned retirements, staff absences and skills shortages. It’s also an effective and simple way of developing a talent pipeline. Opening your business up to young people will make working for you attractive to other bright young minds and their networks. For your current staff, you can involve them in the mentoring and supervision of work placements, or have them go into schools, encouraging their own development and learning. Staff will find it rewarding to be involved in developing young people and their involvement will improve their confidence and management skills. 

Talent planning

The mixture of on and off the job learning work experience offers ensures young people will learn the skills that work best for your business. This guarantees your workforce will have the practical skills and qualifications that you need, both now and in the future, allowing you to shape your workforce according to yiur organisational need. If you are working with schools, you can help influence the curriculum, set standards, and therefore ensure that young people are better prepared for employment. 

Support business growth

Young people are flexible in terms of their work patterns and can be more willing to move and work in different locations around the country. They bring creativity, innovation and a willingness to learn. Their flexibility and adaptability are integral to enhancing productivity and contributing to business growth.

Community engagement & brand loyalty

Working with schools can demonstrate that the company is socially responsible and interested in developing young people. The company can also be more daring, by offering to help disadvantaged young people who may not have had the opportunity to consider a job in the sector, or work with ethnic minorities, especially if they are prevalent in the local community. Engagement in the community is viewed favourably by potential clients, and therefore opens up new business opportunities.

In this way, it can also raise the profile of the company, and create brand loyalty, and in turn raise the profile of the sector or industry. This may lead to potential employees thinking about your company first when they are looking at work in a specific sector. 

See also: Not just making the tea...Reinventing work experience, Business and schools: Building the world of working together, Grow your own: How young people can work for you.