For many adults, days spent as a teenager on a work experience placement were a formative part of school life. But mandatory work experience was removed from the curriculum two years ago by the Department for Education, placing the practice in jeopardy.
But new research by Barclays-backed education programme LifeSkills found that almost nine out of 10 (86 per cent) teachers think compulsory work experience placements should be brought back. The proposal was backed by an almost identical (87 per cent) proportion of the 14 to 25-year-olds surveyed as part of the LifeSkills Youth Barometer.
Most worryingly of all, one in five (19 per cent) of the young people said they feared missing out on work experience could end up costing them the job of their dreams.
Businesswoman Karren Brady, an ambassador for LifeSkills – which has struck up work experience agreements for firms such as Centrica, West Ham United Football Club, ISS and McDonald’s to offer placements – called on businesses and schools to work together to offer students vital experience of the workplace.
This view was backed by Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. “All young people should have the opportunity to take part in high quality work-experience, get good information to guide their choices and have time to reflect on what they have learned,” she said. “Work experience helps young people make decisions about their future and gives them transferable skills which are vital for employment and future learning.”
Whether the DfE is equally committed to work experience placements remains to be seen.