Work placements are anything but a waste of time

26th March 2010 at 00:00

I would like to exchange Geoff Brookes' "image of futility" of the young person on work placement ("Work experience: two words that don't together", March 19) for another: namely, the upsetting sight of thousands of young people per year sitting in a classroom trying to succeed in a system that doesn't meet their needs - when they could be out there learning on the job.

For young people at the Rathbone charity, a taste of the workplace is absolutely pivotal. It offers them the opportunity to explore different careers and, because it sparks their interest, gives them confidence. For those from a chaotic family background, it also enables them to gain their first real taste of the discipline of the nine to five.

Certainly the onus is on the employer to provide a decent taster, but for our young people, administration tasks and cleaning up (which are important - not demeaning - jobs, incidentally) are more beneficial than studying subjects that hold no interest or relevance for them.

Far from being the "most pointless part of the year", a good placement can shape a young person's future and imbue them with the kinds of experience and skills they simply cannot get at school.

And while that may be more beneficial for those on the vocational path, it can also be useful for the academically gifted. In this age of texting and the internet, it's good for every young person to learn important skills such as how to use a telephone!

Peter Gibson, Rathbone head office, Manchester.

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