06 Aug The Benefits of Work Experience
Work experience is an arrangement where an employer hosts a work experience participant for a period of time to increase the participants’ employability through the development of on-the-job skills, knowledge and experience.
There are a number of benefits resulting from work experience placements including:
Job seekers often find themselves in a ‘catch 22’ situation, they can’t get a job because they don’t have experience, yet they can’t get the experience without a job. Work experience allows the participant to gain all important work skills and experience.
Communication and interpersonal skills
Along with general work skills, work experience participants have an opportunity to develop their communication and interpersonal skills by interacting with a range of different people on the job including team members, managers and customers.
Building a CV
One of the greatest advantages of participating in a work experience placement is that the experience gained can be added to the participant’s CV. Employers look upon work experience favourably as it shows initiative, a good work ethic and a genuine interest in an industry.
World of work
Work experience enables a participant to experience the reality of working life which is particularly important for young people with little or no previous work history. A work experience placement is a valuable learning experience enabling participants to gain insight into various industries, organisational cultures and job roles.
Coaching and mentoring
Participants in work experience placements have a unique opportunity to receive coaching and mentoring to help them develop vital work and interpersonal skills.
Employers often use their own work experience programme as an avenue to recruit new trainees. During a work experience placement the employer has the opportunity to witness how well the participant will fit in with the rest of the team, their work ethic and determine their potential as a member of staff.
Employers benefit from work experience too. Here’s just some of the benefits for employers:
Work experience placements enable an employer to scout for talent, selecting the most appropriate individuals to join their team.
The training, supervision and mentoring of work experience participants gives existing staff the opportunity to develop their own staff management skills
Work experience contributes to economic development by increasing the employability of participants, enriching the work environment and increasing productivity.
An active work experience programme demonstrates the values of an organisation, reflecting on how it is viewed by the wider community. This positive image also impacts on employees as they develop a respect and loyalty for their employer.
Arranging a work experience placement
Most high school students have an opportunity to participate in a work experience programme at various times during their education. But you don’t have to be in high school to take place in and benefit from a work experience placement, anyone can participate although most programmes have been developed with high school students in mind.
Current high school or university students should approach your careers centre for advice on how to proceed with a work experience placement. In most cases they will arrange the placement and ensure that your health and safety is protected during the placement.
If you are a non-student who wishes to participate in a work experience placement, you can try contacting your local Job Centre Plus for guidance. Alternatively you can contact an employer directly to see if they can arrange a work experience placement for you.
The company’s HR department will likely draw up an agreement and you should confirm that your host employer has appropriate Employers’ and Public Liability insurance to cover any workplace injuries that could occur during the period of your placement.
An alternative to work experience is volunteering. Volunteering can take place over a longer period and has similar advantages to work experience although a volunteer placement is likely to be less structured (if at all) and the level of support will vary. You can learn more about volunteering from my recent blog post on the topic.
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Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(HumServ&Couns), DipCareerGuid, MCDI/RCDP is a Career Coach and Employability Specialist at CareerWorx www.careerworx.co.uk.