How to overcome the challenges of organising work experience

Apr 12, 2024 | Home Featured, Research, Work experience/internships

ISE’s latest research considers the experience of employers, schools and colleges organising work experience, revealing how challenges can be overcome.

During the pandemic, many employers pivoted to virtual work experience, which, once established, seemed to deliver good results for both the business and students.

ISE’s School Outreach report Forging Stronger Bonds: Redefining Employer-School Engagement for Tomorrow considers how work experience needs to evolve in the dominantly hybrid world of work. How can we ensure quality and authentic experiences of the world of work can be received by students? And what challenges are faced to achieve this evolution?

From across the UK, 91 schools and colleges and 53 student employers, from a range of sectors and organisation sizes, were surveyed. You can read some of the main findings in How to get the edge on school outreach.

What are the challenges of organising work experience?

In both our surveys we asked respondents to score the level of ease they found with the process of organising work experience currently.

Three quarters (74%) of schools and colleges rated it as difficult or very difficult to organise, with only 2% rating it as easy and none rating it as very easy.

Employers were more positive in their scores with only half rating it difficult or very difficult, and 28% rating it easy or very easy.

Common challenges were:

• While many employers are still finding their balance in terms of hybrid working, the challenge for work experience is two-fold; how students access quality work experiences in a hybrid working environment and how employers deliver authentic work experiences which bring to life the realities of working in a hybrid workplace for the students.

• Lack of resources and time to invest in work experience, both from the employer and schools and colleges perspectives.

• Difficulties connecting schools and colleges with employers – there was a general feeling of a disconnect between demand for work experience and supply of opportunities.

• Safeguarding, health and safety, risk assessments and other processes and protocols which apply to under 18s in the workplace. Read advice on safeguarding work experience students.

• Getting equipment and resources for work experience students due to the short period of time they were with the employer

Overcoming challenges

Get creative
There are many creative ways employers are looking to overcome the challenges presented by hybrid working, while delivering an authentic view of the world of work and their sector/jobs. Read How Aon reinvented work experience to engage disadvantaged young people.

Be authentic
While many employers and sectors have switched to hybrid working, some do not offer it. It’s important that the format in which work experience is delivered by an employer is authentic to the realities of their working environment, as well as the type of work students might undertake in that organisation or sector.

Make it easier
How could you make it easier for schools and students to find and access work experiences with you as an employer, and for you to deliver these? Could a third-party supplier support you to overcome barriers to access and delivery? Are there opportunities to learn best practice from other suppliers?

If you aren’t able to offer in-person/traditional work experiences due to role type or sector, consider if there are other innovative ways to bring the working world to life for young people. Could you collaborate with other employers in similar sectors to deliver an engaging and inspiring experience which simulates working on a project/scenario without the full commitment of traditional work experience opportunities?

You may also be interested in…

Employer collaboration essential for successful school outreach

What do students think about work experience?

What’s the state of the graduate labour market right now?

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