In previous articles I’ve highlighted the many ways businesses can engage with students and colleges to raise the profile of our industry. This month, I’m focusing on work experience and the potential even short placements can have on a student’s confidence, aspirations and future career decisions.
Students are told they need to be ’employer-ready,’ but without practical experience it can be difficult for them to feel they have the skills and knowledge for life post-education. Although work experience is no longer compulsory in secondary education, it’s hugely valued by employers, who remain more likely to recruit students with it on their CV.
Colleges appreciate meaningful work experience for their students too, because as well as making them more employable, placements also allow students to experience the practical business application of theory they hear in the classroom. Students often return from work experience fired up about both their courses and their future job opportunities - some even with firm job offers.
Run well, work experience can open students’ eyes to an industry or career path they would never have considered. For employers, they’re another way to showcase the huge breadth of job options the industry can offer, while identifying and securing talent.
It’s not always necessary to offer lengthy placements; these may not be appropriate for your business anyway. Reach out to local colleges to organise group student visits. Age restrictions for factories needn’t prove a barrier either, visiting the offices or developmental kitchens can be hugely inspirational.
Young people recalling more than four interactions with employers during their secondary education say they felt substantially more prepared for adult working life. Having made valuable connections with your local colleges through work experience and work visits, optimise the relationship by attending college careers fairs, suggesting ideas for course project assignments linked to your business and more. Offering work experience really is a win-win all round, so if it’s something you’ve been contemplating in your business, now’s the time to do something about it.