What are the benefits of doing work experience?
1 Learning about a job or industry, and making contacts
- During work experience you can see first-hand what happens in a typical day on the job. Getting a realistic idea of the positive and negative parts of a job helps you make a more informed choice.
- Meeting people in the job means you can ask them questions, such as what they like best about their job, how they ended up in their line of work, and what qualifications they have.
- Meeting people in the job also helps you to start building a network of contacts in an industry you like, which can help you find a job later on.
- You can learn about related jobs in the same field, which could give you more ideas about what kind of career you might go into.
2 Improving your job opportunities later on
- Job advertisements often ask for people with experience. Work experience can be the kind of experience an employer is looking for. It also proves you were motivated enough to find out about their industry.
- Doing work experience lets a potential employer see what kind of person you are – and you also get to find out about the employer. If the employer likes your attitude and you are a good fit for the company, there could be a potential job offer later on.
Why work experience is important to schools
1 Motivation to learn
Surveys of young people show that young people recognise the value of work experience especially in helping them to understand the importance of learning at school to future employment. A 2007 DCSF survey of 8,000 pupils who had just finished work experience showed:
- 90% agreeing (with 50% strongly agreeing) that they understood better why it is important to do well at school
- 89% agreeing (with 42% strongly agreeing) that they were more prepared to work hard in lessons and coursework
2 Higher aspirations
School-based activities that involve employers can also improve the aspirations of children and young people. DCSF’s 2007 survey of 8,000 work experience students found, for example, that 75% were clearer about what they wanted to do in their future careers after the placement.
3 Higher attainment
Young people enjoy the opportunities that they get to work with employers and are motivated by them, thinking more critically about their future career options and better seeing the relevance of their school or college work to future employment. It is unsurprising, therefore, that there is growing evidence of measurable improved impacts on the attainment of pupils in tests and qualifications.
4 Increased employability
After they’ve completed work experience, overwhelming majorities of young people agree that they have a better understanding of the skills that employers are looking for (94%), of the personal qualities that employers are looking for (94%) and had a chance to develop and display such skills on their placement (87%).
And employers agree that work experience especially provides a hugely helpful insight into the world of work. A 2007 employer survey by the CBI showed that work experience played an important part in developing the personal skills and attitudes that employers most highly value. To employers, the key benefits of work experience include:
- Learning about the importance of generic employability skills (eg, self-management, team working, customer care, problem solving, oral and written communication, IT skills)
- Insight into a particular career or sector
- General business awareness
- Developing a positive attitude