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Couldn't WE make a difference to Social Mobility? A MN Work Experience scheme?

(32 Posts)
VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 24-Jul-09 13:11:03

Look, there are what? Nearly a million members? And millions of views a week?

And the Meeja are always telling us how Important we are?

I've had an idea, based on Milburn's report and some recent posts on here...

...What if MN set up an informal or even a formal Work Experience exchange scheme? As you know, people who know peoplein the professions can always get work experience in a desirable workplace. But people who are socially excluded can't.

What if people who worked in the professions negotiated one or two WE placements in their office (lawyers, GP surgeries, firms, head offices or whatever...). I am willing to give it a go but whether an academic job is good advice for a teenager I'm not sure...

It would be a kind of Take Some Random MNer's Kid to Work Day.

I think there would need to be criteria, but what would they be? Or is this just a really bad idea? grin

idranktheteaatwork Fri 24-Jul-09 13:16:44

I think it is a great idea in principle but would take a massive amount of co-ordination and commitment.

What would happen if something goes horribly wrong and someone was injured/something was stolen or damaged?
Who would deal with that sceneario?

We could have separate section on the talk board for it but i do think that it would need a few volunteers to run any scheme properly.

It's not just about work experience, it's about making sure that the young person/mature student is getting the right experience to help them further their development.

idranktheteaatwork Fri 24-Jul-09 13:17:56

Sorry, i appear to have pissed on your bonfire. grin

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 24-Jul-09 13:18:36

S'OK. I'm full of bright ideas that go utterly nowhere.

juneybertiebottsbean Fri 24-Jul-09 13:20:10

" i appear to have pissed on your bonfire" LMAO!

Doesn't it involve CRB's too if they're under 16?

Nice idea in theory though!

amidaiwish Fri 24-Jul-09 13:20:50

i think it is a fantastic idea.
mner's could post the type of work experience their dc was looking for, and then an MNER would volunteer if they could help.
I don't see why it has to be more complex than that - just another way of finding someone you "know" to get an in in the relevant field.

Lilymaid Fri 24-Jul-09 13:21:01

You might also want to consider a "lend a suit" scheme as a surprising number of people don't pursue applications/work experience because they don't have clothing suitable for business.

amidaiwish Fri 24-Jul-09 13:22:50

oh come on, stop looking for barriers!!!

a friend of a friend contacts me as dh is in IT, asking if he could get their dc work experience. he asks around, puts them in touch with the relevant person in his org. what's the difference??

GypsyMoth Fri 24-Jul-09 13:23:13

what do you mean by socially excluded??

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 24-Jul-09 13:27:19

Sorry - jargon. Socially excluded is a common phrase in academic and policy circles and it refers to people who are in effect excluded from full participation in society because of a number of interacting factors: eg from a poor family, living in a run-down area, with little access to transport or good education etc..

I wasn't meaning it in any status sense, though the two often go together of course.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 24-Jul-09 13:28:56

<hugs amidaiwish>

OK, let's make it informal contacts then. But people could use MN to post requests and opportunities no? Like the houseswap list - you ask or advertise and leave it up to individuals to negotiate between themselves?

GypsyMoth Fri 24-Jul-09 13:32:23

i think its more likely that they are excluded because of health and safety requirements that the school needs to meet in order for children to be insured to 'work' in a different environment. responsibility for the children has to be taken,but very few 'proffesions' meet the requirements.

i think this applies to all of society. not just kids from a poor background,whatever 'poor' is these days.

or did you mean work experience during the hols without school involvement?

amidaiwish Fri 24-Jul-09 13:40:35

oooh, that was my first mn hug smile

cornsillk Fri 24-Jul-09 13:42:20

'Tis a fab idea - so is the 'lend a suit' one. You clever wimmin you.

thedolly Fri 24-Jul-09 13:48:18

So what are the hurdles to social mobility? DH and I have been thinking a lot about this recently. It's a complex question I know but we have more or less narrowed it down to aspiration. Imparting the desire to do something great (if that is even possible) could happen by the plan you have envisaged but I suspect any mobility would be mostly in the wrong quadrant IYKWIM. Would it be better to get the MNetters who are keen to go in and speak to the most disaffected pupils in schools - they may ignite a spark?

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 13:58:35

Well it's not going to help the socially excluded kids whose mums don't care about them and aren't on the internet anyway.
BUT those who have supportive internet-connected parents who don't have contacts in the various professions and can't afford private schools could benefit.
Not everyone on here is posh or well-off and there are certainly huge numbers of mums on here trying to do the best for their children in difficult circs. This could be very helpful to them.

Of course, people could just post work experience requests in the employment section anyway, but some people might feel diffident about asking and worry that it was a bit cheeky, so a special topic with a statement that some MNers are happy to give advice or help organise placements could be very useful.

Vulpus I think this is a terrific idea and it's just a matter of how to hammer out exactly how MN could best be used and the most efficient way to do it.

thedolly Fri 24-Jul-09 14:05:49

The mums who are trying to do the best for their children will presumably already have ignited a spark in their DC, no?

vonsudenfed Fri 24-Jul-09 14:17:13

I think there is a lend a suit scheme out there - I remember reading about a charity which got good quality clothes from women in the city and passed them on to women who really needed them for job interviews and such like.

I think the exchange is a really good idea, but part of the problem now is internships. I work(ed) in the meeja, and the only way in now is to do loads of unpaid w/e jobs, often for months at a time (to be fair, this has been cracked down on a bit in tv, but not elsewhere). No one who doesn't have money from mummy and daddy can afford to do this kind of carry-on for months on end until they have enough experience to be paid.

I think they should be made illegal, and using them to judge candidates also illegal, as it runs right over any notions of equality or open access. </rant>

MrsWobble Fri 24-Jul-09 14:33:15

you might find a potential experience provider's perspective useful - so for what it's worth here's mine. I get asked to arrange this sort of thing a couple of times a year or so directly and a bit more often via colleagues (who want me to sort it out for them and their contacts). As a result I've developed a set of "rules" - primarily to try and be as fair as possible.

1. Work experience is unpaid (including travel expenses etc). they may get bought lunch but this is not guaranteed. I can see that this could be an issue for the people you are trying to help so needs to be considered upfront as the provider may not be expecting/able to organise reimbursement. [It's unpaid because we have very good paid internships/summer vac schemes etc but these are extremely competitive to get a place on and it doesn't seem fair that someone can get basically the same thing without the application/assessment process just because of family/contacts]

2. the experience is limited to 3 days work shadowing. this is because it is quite disruptive for the people being shadowed and 3 days is enough of an imposition. [It needs to be shadowing and not independent work because of minimum wage legislation and professional regulation]

3. the individual must have completed at least year 12 and be on track for good A levels and a university education. [We only employ graduates so it's a waste of everyone's time if the individual is not a potential future employee]

4. one of the partners must be prepared to take personal responsibility for the individual during their time with us and sign the paperwork confirming this. [To comply with our H&S responsibilities and our professional regulations]

It is, to be frank, a real pain to organise and I don't like doing it (and I usually don't have them shadowing me). Generally it's done because the individual is the child of either a friend/relative or of a client and it's too difficult to say no. It's particularly irritating when it's patently clear from the beginning that the individual has no interest in us or what we do and is only doing it because their parents think it will enhance their cv.

I think the only potential barrier to this kind of arrangement working as well for your children as it would for my friends' children is point number 4 - but this doesn't seem insurmountable. But it really is important that they have a genuine interest in the business they are looking to get some experience in - it's a waste of everyone's time if all they want is the credential on their cv.

GypsyMoth Fri 24-Jul-09 19:38:38

work experience isn't year 12 though,well not here or other places i've lived anyway. its year 10. 14/15 year olds.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 24-Jul-09 21:17:34

Thanks all (esp MrsWobble) for your suggestions. I'm bumping this for evening people to trash develop the idea...

EldonAve Fri 24-Jul-09 21:30:37

Nice idea but surely work experience is too little too late to affect social mobility

I thought the report blamed it all on crap GSCE results?

EldonAve Fri 24-Jul-09 21:35:27

sorry didn't mean to trash your idea so bumping it for you

Lilymaid Fri 24-Jul-09 22:20:22

The lend a suit scheme mentioned here is Dress for Success - seems to have been a US idea originally but with offshoots in London and Strathclyde area.

cherryblossoms Sat 25-Jul-09 12:53:52

Vulpus - i think it's a great, great idea. I'm going to read the rest of the thread in detail but just wanted to post quickly and say I think you're cool for that idea.

I have noticed that this is kind of what happens in the work experience week. The very bright and shiny parents, with bright and shiny networks, arrange bright and shiny work experiences for their kids and their friends kids.

The rest (the majority) get what's arranged by the school (who do their best). So someone gets to follow the council dog patrol for four days and someone else gets to work on a newspaper/on a film/as a fashion stylist etc.

The whole networks, perpetuating social exclusion thing writ small.

I think your idea of people just posting and asking is not, at all, a bad idea - though it does involve big issues of trust/organisation.

But, as I said, that's kind of what happens anyway - it's just that the closed networks make it easier to negotiate the bond/trust thing. Though they also are exclusive by their very nature.

Fwiw - I really am utterly impressed that you care enough to have spent time thinking about this.

I'm giving you a shifty, emotionally embarrassed, rub on the arm.

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