BYC Manifesto 2012-2014

2013 Priority Campaign

At our 2012 Annual Council Meeting Marc Dataro from Wandsworth Youth Council explained why he thought 'Ready to Work' should be a BYC Priority campaign. 



Work Experience Provision across Schools in the UK

Our Employment PlacardWork experience provides young people with an opportunity to spend time outside of their normal learning environment. It is intended to give a student some experience of working life as well as the chance to learn or develop the key skills needed for employment. It also affords them the chance to learn about job options or career paths that they may not otherwise know about. In order to achieve these things work experience should, as far as is possible, undertake real tasks in order to give them an accurate idea of the work carried out by their employer. They should also be provided with guidance and feedback to allow them the opportunity to learn and develop the skill set they will need to help their employability.



Under the current legislation pupils across England, are all entitled to undertake between one and two weeks work experience during their time at school. In maintained schools this takes place when pupils are aged between 14 and 16 years old; Year 10 and 11. Although work experience is not compulsory there is a large take up amongst students with the Department for Education in England reporting a 95% participation rate.



Senior pupils at secondary school can take part in work placements, normally for one week. This takes place when pupils are aged between 14 and 16 years old; Year 10 and 11.



In Scotland work experience takes place from 1st May in their S3 year if they are going to reach school leaving age either during their S4 year or at the end of the Christmas term of their S5 year. Skills for Scotland1, the national skills strategy, acknowledged the role that work experience can play in supporting young people to make positive transitions from school*1. In doing so it can contribute to the National Indicator to increase the proportion of school leavers in positive and sustained destinations.


Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish Government believes that most pupils will probably undertake work experience in Years 11 or 12 and that the school is likely to help organise this but that pupils will be involved in the choice of where they would like to undertake it.



Specific Issues


Figures published by the Department for Education for England in November 2012 showed that 17% of 16-24 year olds were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). In practical terms this equates to 1,067,037 16-24 year olds who are currently NEET. A recent report, chaired by David Miliband, found that poor qualifications, lack of soft employability skills, lack of understanding about the labour market, limited access to work experience, and ultimately poor labour market transition arrangements as important factors accounting for the unemployment issue with young people. This issue would appear to be compounded by the results of a study carried out by the Recruitment and Education Confederation (REC) which found that there was an 'attitude gap'. This means that young people had not been appropriately advised on the types of jobs and remunerations that they could realistically expect.

In 2011, however, the results of the Wolf Review of Vocational Education which had been commissioned by the government proposed a significant change to the current system. The report argued that the requirement for Pre-16 work experience in the UK should be removed to reflect that most people do not leave school and enter full time employment at 16.

"DfE should evaluate models for supplying genuine work experience to 16-18 year olds who are enrolled as full-time students, not apprentices, and for reimbursing local employers in a flexible way, using core funds. Schools and colleges should be encouraged to prioritise longer internships for older students, reflecting the fact that almost no young people move into full-time employment at 16; and government should correspondingly remove their statutory duty to provide every young person at KS4 with a standard amount of "work-related learning".


Wales and England

During a survey carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies it was found that all schools issued students with diaries or workbooks to use on their placement. The extent of debriefing on return to school, however, varies and is limited where placements take place near school holidays. There was also little evidence that the work experience was used in the mainstream curriculum or that pupils were undertaking a real job as opposed to just doing odd jobs. *2



Over recent years in Scotland the Government has grown increasingly aware of differing approaches to local delivery and differing levels of priority across the country. This has suggested that the commitment to the universal principle varies between local authority areas.*1 The number of pupils leaving education at 16 in Scotland has halved since 1980 which also brings into question the timing of work experience undertaken by pupils.


Northern Ireland

Evidence and data on the quality and effectiveness of the current provision of work experience for young people in Northern Ireland is distinctly lacking. This is often matched by out of date information from across the other 3 Nations and is the driving force behind the first of our Campaign Actions.



Campaign Actions for Our Members

What do we want?

An improvement to the current provision of work experience undertaken by school pupils.


How will we get it?

Before we are able to choose the best way to improve the current work experience provision we must first find out what you think its strengths and weaknesses are (as can be seen from the previous information existing data is often out of date and not representative of the current provision). To do this we will be carrying research to find out what the current provision for pupils to undertake work experience is; the effectiveness of such placements in preparing them for work; and, what best practice may look like. The research will be shaped by the following suggested proposals:

  • Provision of a Work Experience Website
  • Provision of Detailed Feedback
  • Provision of Career Taster Days
  • Investment in Careers Services

Who can help?

English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Members


Although the specific actions will be informed by the outcome of this research, possible activities could include:

The creation of a youth led charter for companies who take pupils for work experience to sign, detailing the expected outcomes of their work experience. This would include feedback about their performance, any specific areas that they could strengthen to improve their chances of gaining employment and details about the types of qualifications needed to enter their line of work.

The production of a standardised letter or postcard to lobby local businesses to go into schools and provide information about the types of roles available within their business/sector. This should include information about the types of paths needed to be taken to gain employment there, types of qualifications etc.

Running a letter/postcard writing campaign to lobby parliament to produce clear guidelines on the quantity and quality of work experience that should be provided for all pupils to counteract disparity between different schools.


Get involved

We want as many young people as possible to get involved. If you have any suggestions, or want to find out more, get in touch:

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