Work experience a win-win for learners, employers and community

By Anita Jaynes on October 15, 2014

It’s national Work Experience Week (13  to 17 October): a time for jobseekers ,training providers and employers to join together to promote the value of meaningful work placements.

According to research from UK Commission for Employment & Skills, when recruiting 74% of employers expect young people to have work experience, but only 27% actually provide work placements. National Work Experience Week is an opportunity to start to address the balance.

Marcus recently completed The Learning Curve Salisbury Prince’s Trust Team programme, a 12 week personal development programme which aims to increase confidence, motivation and skills and enable young people to move into employment. A key part of the programme is a two week work placement. Marcus was lucky enough to get a placement at Salisbury Fire Station.

Marcus says “My biggest challenge was doing something new, with new people in a new place. I felt a bit scared at times, but eventually I communicated with everyone and started getting along.”

Marcus’ work placement supervisor says “At the beginning of the two weeks, Marcus came across as quite a shy and withdrawn young man. I was introduced to him on his first day and asked to show him his locker. I was instantly impressed because he chose to place his mobile phone in his locker and said he wouldn’t need it. In an age of social media this demonstrated to us that Marcus was engaged and eager to gain as much from his time at Salisbury Fire Station as possible, which in truth was a refreshing change.”

As Marcus continued his placement, his self-esteem and team working skills blossomed. His supervisor commented “It was quite apparent from the onset Marcus was not used to working in a team, which is why I think working with a fire station watch has immensely boosted his confidence. A watch is a close-knit team and nobody is detailed to do mundane tasks, they just happen. By the end of Marcus’ two weeks he was really helping out and at no point did we have to ask him to do something extra, he did it himself. The watch and I considered Marcus to be a member of our team. If he can continue to work on the things he has learnt from the people at Salisbury, he will have a good work ethic which will stand him in good stead for future possibilities.”

Following his work placement, Marcus was invited to become a cadet with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on the volunteer Community Resilience Team. This is a new pilot scheme in which local people support the emergency services at times of great need such as flooding.

Marcus’ story demonstrates how work experience can be a win-win for unemployed people, employers and the community. If you can give a young person the opportunity to shine in your organisation, current learners from The Learning Curve Prince’s Trust Team courses in Salisbury and Trowbridge will be looking for work placements soon. If you can give a young person the opportunity to shine in your organisation, contact The Learning Curve on 01225 792500 or team@learningcurve.org.uk

To find out more about how to offer great work experience placements, training organisation Fair Train have developed a work experience quality standard. They are also encouraging employers to make a pledge this week to provide work experience for young people. For more information see their website www.giveyouthachance.com

Pictured above: Marcus on his placement at Salisbury Firestation