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Setting up a work experience programme might seem daunting, but it needn't be.

Schools, colleges and universities are keen to help their students close the gap between what they learn in the classroom, lecture hall or lab and the skills they will need to apply when they get a job.

Engage with education and connect with young talent to shape your future workforce early on.

You’ll not only help develop the employees you need, but identify yourself as an employer of choice right from the start.

What is work experience?

Work experience is a placement on an employer’s premises in which a student carries out a particular task or duty, or a range of tasks or duties, more or less as an employee would, but with the emphasis on the learning aspects of the experience. Find out more by reading our frequently asked questions...

What does a work experience placement do?

Everyone on work experience should be given the chance to try various tasks and develop skills that will make them more attractive to prospective employers.

But employers should not rely on those doing work experience to fulfil roles that are necessary for the company and would otherwise be undertaken by a member of staff.

A placement needs to provide the student with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom; learn about working life and the working environment; meet challenges; and broaden their horizons.

For the student to get the most out of a placement they need to have clearly defined and realistic learning objectives; they should only be expected to undertake activities that help them to achieve those objectives.

How long does a work experience placement last?

In school, work experience usually takes the form of a week of work shadowing with an employer during 4th year.

For a young person, 16+, the length of time spent in a work placement is flexible and can depend on the industry or individual employer.

Some work placements can be once a week throughout a term or longer term block placements undertaken e.g. between one and three months.

Do I need separate insurance?

Employers’ liability insurance now covers work experience students, provided insurers are members of the Association of British Insurers. This can be confirmed with insurance companies.

Do I need to carry out a risk assessment?

Simplified Health and Safety guidance makes it clear that if organisations already employ young people, risk assessments won’t need to be repeated for work experience students.

And employers with fewer than five employees won’t need a written risk assessment.

For more information, visit the Health and Safety Executive’s website and read the guidance on work experience.

How to offer a work experience placement

Get started using Marketplace.  This online tool makes it easy for you to connect with schools and colleges.