11 Apr 2012

You’re hired! Does work experience lead to a job?

A report on apprenticeships finds young people who have already done work experience are more likely to succeed. But how often do schemes for teenagers lead to real jobs? Channel 4 News takes a look.

You're hired! Does work experience lead to a job?

The “best practice” survey by Ofsted found that students who had already done a work placement or vocational study were much more likely to last the course, compared to those who started straight from school.

It also found that good relationships between employers and trainers were crucial in recording evidence of apprentices’ skills.

Apprenticeships are key to the government’s strategy to develop the skills of the British workforce and to promote the growth and rebalancing of the UK economy.

National Director for Learning and Skills at Ofsted Matthew Coffey said: “When looking at the national picture we can see that around 70 per cent of apprenticeships are good or outstanding but more needs to be done to improve provision further.”

He explained that around a quarter of learners on apprenticeship schemes end up dropping out.

“When preparing post-16s for apprenticeships, schools need to provide meaningful work experience.

“It is clear that more work experience, vocational study and course-tasters are needed to ensure learners are on the right apprenticeship for them and that they understand the demands of work.”

Give and take

“Mis Bianca” got in touch with Channel 4 News via Facebook and told us about her YTS (Youth Training Scheme) placement back in 1986. YTS was an on-the-job training programme brought in by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

Its critics claimed it exploited school-leavers for cheap labour. But it worked for some candidates.

Now a carer, “Mis Bianca” trained in adminstration and got a job at the end of the scheme.

She said: “I was one of the few lucky ones on the YTS, was welcomed into a large company and my work experience had been carefully planned.

“I did three months in each department, and as a result I gained a wide range of experience which stood me in good stead for the future.

“They treated me with respect and so I worked hard.

“All staff got the balance right in making allowances for may age and looking out for me whilst at the same time expecting me to take my duties and responsiblities seriously.

“I was offered a job at the end, but had gained so much experience I was able to move and make the jump from YTS allowance to decent adult wage elsewhere.

“I honestly believe that my YTS is one of the main reasons I’ve never been out of work. However, I do know many others who were just used by ‘all take and no give’ companies.”

Work experience tips

Try to get a placement “off season”. Many of the employers surveyed by Ofsted said the number of students they could accommodate was restricted because too many local schools asked for placements during the same short period at the end of the academic year.

Attitude not aptitude. It doesn’t matter if your skills don’t match the job straight away. The Ofsted report found “the right attitude” and “commitment to employment” were the most important attributes in young workers.

Don’t make the tea. Many of you commenting via Facebook and Twitter complained that work experience candidates were too often made to feel like a “skivvy”. While being helpful is great in the workplace, try to set the tone by asking questions and showing you are ready to take on real responsibilities.

What did work experience do for you?
@hannahwinter I did work experience for 2 weeks at @clarksshoes when I was 16. Offered a Saturday job and worked there for 4 years!
@brutalle Didn't lead to a job but did eventually manage to get on-air on a local radio station towards the end of a placement
Ania Folusiak My internship abroad definitely helped me to get a permanent job even if it wasn't the most important thing during it gave me lots of advantage
nothing! was rubbish - should have been encouraged to start a company instread and make real cash
@Angus_Duncan Did work experience doing admin at local council = useless. Organised own w/local paper last summer, got me place at uni
@Labourcat I learnt to solder which was of help in 1st job and brother was offered a YTS placement that led to apprenticeship
Stephen Walls They just stick kids anywhere nowadays. Employers shouldn't get the chance to trial run their staff before picking them, It's like a cattle market
first job in journalism. Work ex on a local newspaper. Took me on after two weeks. 15 years later, still a journo
@francesca_lewis it encouraged me to go into dentistry and follow my life long dream of being a dentist
@SirHeppe @channel4news gave me office & tv production experience for 6 weeks. Which boosted my cv a lot. And now after uni I (finally) have a job
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