Helping a young person prepare for work experience should be an exciting activity. It doesn’t need to be hard work but it is worth spending time preparing together so the experience is easy and valuable for everyone.
Young people learn a variety of skills at school, helping them understand and enjoy life. However, the world of work is starting to get closer and initially whilst this may be a paper-round or a weekend job we need to ensure that they are equipped with the skills required for today’s workplace. Work experience will provide an opportunity for them to spend time with an employer where they will carry out a range of tasks in the same way as an employee with the emphasis on learning. Work experience will help them put classroom skills into practice so they can develop the “Employability Skills” that employers look for. This is a big step towards a successful career that can be rewarding and fulfilling.
How can Parents/Carers help?
Young people need to be motivated and determined if they are to benefit from the opportunities that a work experience placement presents.
Parents/Carers should give encourage to young people to think of the type of placement that they believe they would like to have. For example, they might picture themselves in different industries such as catering, engineering, agriculture/horticulture, community care, clerical administration or hairdressing. Personal preferences might also be considered such as working for large or small companies, working indoors or outdoors, dealing with members of the public or being part of an office team, using equipment like computers, fax machines, photocopying machines or manufacturing equipment. Make sure they take into consideration transport and travel arrangements.
Their school/college will have support mechanism in place to help identify possible placements and use your network of contacts to provide other possible options. Please remember that any employer agreeing to take on a young person on work experience will be required to hold Employers Liability Insurance for the duration of the placement.
For many, choosing what to do on work experience is the hardest part. Remember, work experience is not always about choosing a career for the rest of their life, it is about gaining experience in the world of work. The decision of where to apply should be led by them. Your role is to encourage, support and also to help when they get rejections from applications. Like any job application, rejection is not personal; the employer may just not be in a position to help at that time.
Whilst they are on placement support them. Encourage them to invest time and energy to make the placement succeed. If they are having problems make sure they talk to someone and keep the school informed. A simple phone call could make all the difference.