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Your guide to work experience

Content supplied by Barclays

Experiencing work? Experiencing what? Making tea? Or worse – not making tea. So, on to one of the main problems with offering work experience – what does it mean and what does it really entail?

When it comes to offering work experience through the LifeSkills programme, it's pretty simple. It's a placement (could be a day, a week, or even a fortnight), designed to be mutually beneficial for your business and the young person involved.

Work experience opportunities are invaluable for young people, as it gives them experience of the work place, opportunities to work with professionals, and a taste of the industry they are hoping to enter when they start their careers.


Benefits for your business

Young people who organise work experience through LifeSkills must have completed the programme's modules, which teach them work, people and money skills, so you can be sure they are more engaged and better prepared for the workplace. On top of that, LifeSkills work experience opportunities are organised directly with you by a teacher who can best match their students' ambitions with the placement available. 

We've put together a few things you should know about offering work experience. This way, the support you are giving young people by signing up will be as valuable as possible.

Tips on building a worthwhile placement

  • Get the best out of your student
    Give them more to do than just make the tea. Let them try their hand at the real day-to-day tasks of your business – and see what value a fresh pair of eyes could add.
  • Give them a who's who
    Help them understand the structure of the business and how a team runs in a workplace, by introducing them to as many people from different levels and departments as possible. And, the same principle applies to meeting customers and suppliers, wherever possible. Make sure you explain who people are before they are introduced and what is expected of them when it comes to speaking to them.
  • Make it last
    Once you've got a sense of your young person: their skills, and their ambitions, think about which elements of your expertise and experience could help them in the future, and how you can help them stay on track for reaching their goals. You never know, you may end up employing them full-time one day. 


But what will they do all day, we hear you cry!

Look at your diary and every day to do list, keeping an eye out for tasks that you feel don't need specific expertise or experience, and start a work experience list. This placement needs to work for you too, so if something has been on your to do list forever, let your student have a go. They really are enthusiastic and ready to get stuck in.

Then pick out meetings or calls they could sit in on and start to build their picture of the work place.

Are there any self-contained, mini projects they could really get their teeth into and be helping with, such as planning an event or promotion, or building a schedule? Even if they are working in parallel with you or a team member, it will be valuable experience for them, and may even add a different perspective to the work you have done.

Explaining why they're doing each task and how it is of value to the business will keep them motivated, no matter how basic– after all, everybody likes to feel they are making a difference.

There's a fantastic guide to work experience you can download here, with lots more details on making the most of a work experience opportunity.


Signing up

There's lots more information on offering work experience opportunities on the LifeSkills website, so take a look and decide what your business might be able to offer. And from there, it's just a case of signing up your business to help.

For lots of young people, going on a work placement will be a life-changing opportunity., Your support of the LifeSkills programme will be invaluable in helping to reach the LifeSkills goal of getting one million young people ready for work by 2015.


Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

  • Expert information on starting your own business
  • Family budgeting and saving tips
  • Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos

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