The past decade has brought a decline in the number of school students in England participating in work experience. Far too many have to rely on their parents’ connections to get worthwhile and beneficial experiences. Amidst growing calls for work experience to be accessible for all, in this report we provide a roadmap for rolling out high quality, universal work experience to students in England, in a way that is both equitable and does not compromise quality.
- Work experience can bring a range of benefits to school students, in terms of future employability, insight into the world of work, self-confidence, emotional development, and even academic outcomes.
- Work experience for all is achievable and affordable: we estimate it is likely to cost around £75 million a year to deliver
- Universal work experience is a good aim, but pushed through hastily, it could have negative unintended consequences – potentially becoming a ‘tick box’ exercise, or crowding out placements for T Levels students
- The role of local brokerage organisations is crucial. They should be tasked with engaging employers, with a single organisation assigned responsibility for coordination in each local area.
- The government should support participation in work experience for employers by standardising bureaucratic requirements.
- It should also establish a single platform to collate work experience opportunities available to young people across the country, with a particular focus on digital placements
- Working up to universalism means that work experience can be rolled out to prioritise the disadvantaged,
- Beginning rollout in a variety of ‘pathfinder’ areas with existing strong careers infrastructure, with progress being assessed using the ‘What Works’ framework
Achieving rollout of a high quality universal work experience programme will take time, but the work must begin today to prevent another generation missing out.