Doing "proper" work experience in the workplace is "vital" for young people, Neil Carmichael, chair of the Education Select Committee, has said.
Mr Carmichael, the MP for Stroud Valleys and Vale, told an event on careers advice reform that "genuine" work experience wasn’t about "having a good week in an office", but was an opportunity for a candidate to gain an eye-opening experience of the world of work.
Mr Carmichael said: "It’s vital that all young people are given the opportunity to understand the world of work. So that really means proper work experience. I have that in my office, funnily enough – I often have young people following me around and looking to see what life is like as an MP, and some of them actually write back and say 'I want to be an MP'."
'Big boots and oily rags'
Speaking at the Westminster Employment Forum seminar on reforming careers advice and guidance in England yesterday, Mr Carmichael also slammed the perceptions "of many teachers" that factories and industry spaces are simply places "for big boots and oily rags", and encouraged young people to see "what they look like" for themselves.
"I would say that all of us in the world of work [should] be doing something like that because that’s how young people just get the feel of it," he said.
"This work experience isn’t just about having a good week’s with someone in office. It’s about seeing what really happens. It’s about going into a factory and realising that they are really interesting, inspiring places. And not what many teachers seem to describe them as – as a place for big boots and oily rags. I’ve got about 1,000 places in my constituency which makes something. I don’t think I’ve seen one where I would be unhappy to eat a meal in the actual factory space. So it is making sure people understand what they look like. How they feel. Just give them a little taste. And that’s what genuine work experience is all about."
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