How to safeguard work experience students effectively

May 30, 2023 | Home Featured, How-to, Work experience/internships

Employers have a responsibility to ensure work experience is a safe and positive experience. Pathway CTM offers guidance on safeguarding students.

Work experience is an opportunity for young people to gain insight into the working world and develop vital employability skills.

As an employer, you have a vital role to play in ensuring that the work experience is a safe, positive, and fulfilling experience for the young person. There are several safeguarding best practices that you should consider when providing work experience to students.


Safeguarding work experience students

Firstly, always work with students in an open work area. Enclosed spaces should be avoided, and one-on-one meetings should only occur when necessary. It is also important to be mindful of working hours and give regular breaks to students.

If a student discloses any information to you or a colleague that is concerning, it is important to contact the school or college to inform them as early as possible.

Further to this, it is essential to ensure that you have emergency contact details of the student on placement and a school or college contact. If a student does not turn up for work experience and you cannot reach them, the school or college should be informed immediately.

You should also understand that due to students’ relative inexperience in the workplace, they may be particularly vulnerable to anxiety or struggle to cope with the transition.

Systems can help staff recognise this and offer suitable support to those who need it. Organisations offering any kind of apprenticeship or traineeship to young people need to put processes in place to protect their learners.

Also bear in mind, if you want to promote or share information about the work experience student, ensure that you have the relevant permissions from the student, parent, school or college.

Promoting or sharing information without permission may result in the organisation facing legal repercussions.


Safeguarding the company and staff running work experience

Firstly, safe recruitment, selection, and vetting procedures for appropriate staff are crucial when it comes to safeguarding policy for work experience.
We advise that the staff who are delivering the work experience programme are DBS Enhanced checked. Take a look at information and guidance for employers on the government’s guidance DBS checks: guidance for employers.

You should also ensure that the members of your team delivering the programme understand these legal requirements, are safeguarding trained and follow school/college policies. In addition, staff should promote the British values that are designed to promote equality, listen to and respect their learners.

As an employer, you will already be aware of risk assessments for your place of work. You will need to extend this if you are planning to have young people visit you on site.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on managing risks and assessment at work.

You should be aware that, under health and safety law, every employer must ensure the health and safety of their employees and have set out specific considerations when working with young people. Work experience students are your employees, like any other young person you employ.

Further to this, it is essential to conduct a risk assessment before students start their work experience. This means you will need to review your risk assessment if you do not currently employ a young person or have not employed a young person in the last few years.

When a student starts with you, confidentiality clauses should be well explained to them, and they should be briefed on the importance of confidentiality.
Students may very innocently share something, for example, on social media, which may be sensitive to the organisation. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that students understand the confidentiality clauses.


Summary and further support

In conclusion, providing work experience to young people is an excellent opportunity to help them develop new skills and gain valuable knowledge about the world of work.

However, it is important for employers to ensure that they follow best practices. Employers should also be aware of the legal requirements and their own policies and collaborate with teachers and school/college leaders to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students.

By taking these steps, employers can offer a positive and safe experience to young people while helping to prepare them for their future careers.
Here at Pathway CTM we have procedures and rules in place when it comes to safeguarding our students and we take advice from an independent safeguarding consultant. We also use resources from The Careers and Enterprise Company, The Safeguarding Company, and The HSE.
We recommend that if you, or your company has any queries or concerns regarding safeguarding you contact Yvonne Sinclair at Safeguarding Support Ltd.


You may also be interested in:

Recognising uniqueness in students is vital for good work experience
5 tips: help students get the most out of hybrid work experience

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