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Stepping into the world of work: making it easier for businesses to deliver work placements for young people

A new work experience framework, which will help employers work together with schools and colleges to give young people experience of the world of work, is now available in the North East. Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how it works.

Providing young people with first-hand experience of the world of work is something which can help set them up for the future. It allows them to explore a range of jobs, develop skills which they’ll need once they leave school, and it helps to break down stereotypes and preconceptions about the kinds of roles that they see themselves going into.

For employers, it builds links with the next generation and allows you to raise the profile of your business and sector with tomorrow’s workforce. But creating a work experience programme isn’t always easy.

We know that businesses in our region recognise the importance of work experience, but we also know that some businesses want support to develop relationships with schools and to make sure that their placements are giving young people a really meaningful experience of the workplace which builds on what they learn in the classroom.

This is why the North East LEP team has worked with employers, schools and colleges to develop a new work experience framework.

The framework is freely available online for employers and schools to use, and it provides a structure for placements, making sure that young people get a meaningful experience, and helping businesses to carry on with their work experience programmes in the wake of the pandemic.

The framework contains 12 modules which cover topics such as goal-setting and employer feedback. It helps schools and businesses to structure their placements, including options for face-to-face or virtual experiences, or a blended approach. And it helps students to prepare for their placement, meaning that they begin with an understanding of your business and what they want to gain from their time with you.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses are producing videos and 360 degree tours, and the framework shows you how to make the most of these and make them part of a comprehensive work experience programme.

The framework can be adapted to suit businesses of different sizes and in different sectors, and if you would like more support to create your work experience programme, the skills team at the North East LEP is on hand to help.

We piloted the framework with the help of 750 secondary students who told us that it helped them to understand expectations in the workplace, and their own strengths and skills. “It was a brilliant experience. I would love to do it again. Thank you so much,” said one student.

The response from businesses has been really positive as well, with 100% of businesses that took part in the pilot saying that the framework was easy to use, flexible and adaptable.

As businesses, schools and communities begin to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the importance of high quality work experience for young people can’t be forgotten. Now this framework is available, I hope as many businesses as possible will make use of it and help young people in our region take their first steps into the world of work.

The North East LEP’s work experience framework is available at NorthEastAmbition.co.uk.

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Get In Go Far

Get In Go Far is the government’s new advertising campaign, informing and inspiring young people to consider apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience as valid and credible routes to a rewarding career.

According to the government’s research, 70% of employers say that apprenticeships improved their products or services and the North East LEP recognises that apprenticeships are key to delivering more and better jobs and improving skills here in the North East.

We aim to reach a target of 30% of North East businesses employing an apprentice by 2017 and are investing in pre-apprenticeship training and traineeships.

We are also delivering support to North East SMEs to help them identify opportunities and create new opportunities for young people, though a partnership scheme – Generation NE.

The £4.5m scheme, which is led by a partnership of local authorities and the North East LEP, will provide dedicated support through a team of specialist business advisors, to businesses to help them offer work placements and traineeships.

Gill Southern, Co-Chair of our North East Business Support Board said: “Providing young people with work experience and skills development is essential. The local economy has great potential, but without the right workforce we won’t be able to achieve our ambitions for sustainable economic growth. SMEs are critical to providing these opportunities, and through schemes such as Generation NE we can ensure that they have the support they need to do this.”

Visit www.getingofar.gov.uk to find out more about the Get In Go Far campaign.