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Why is Work Experience important?

Organised by national charity Fair Train, National Work Experience Week 2015 (#WEWeek2015) is a week-long celebration of work experience in all its forms. However, it is important that schools and colleges do not think of work experience as just one week – when young people go into a workplace to gain experience of an industry or job role. Fair Train identifies that it should in fact be ‘a tailored programme which offers an individual the chance to gain the skills necessary to find full employment.

This got me thinking further about the impact work experience programmes can have on young people’s soft skills and employability skills development. I regularly take part in #UkCareersChat via Twitter, which brings together like-minded education professionals who specialise in developing CEIAG for young people. I asked the participants for their thoughts on work experience and there were some interesting responses:

WEX is often a wake-up call to real-world expectations’ @careersdefender

I hope they [young people] realise that developing skills is as important if not more important than acquiring knowledge’ @designandrewd

‘[A work experience programme] must be relevant and organised’ @DJWCareers

I’d say #WEX is critical in providing many young people with a first taster of interacting at work – many lessons’ @CareersNick

Workplace skills development needs to enter every subject’ @designandrewd

It strikes me that in order to truly make work experience worthwhile for every young person, it needs to be ‘relevant and organised’ and embedded in ‘every subject’, not least because (arguably) it is ‘more important than acquiring knowledge’. Underpinning this real-world experience is a need for schools and colleges to engage with the concept of having work-related/careers learning running through the whole curriculum.

ASDAN’s Careers and Experiencing Work Short Course can support these aims by providing a programme to engage young people, ideally of school or college age. The programme goes beyond the actual experience of work and aims to enable learners to make a start on managing their own career journey, exploring the options available and supporting the planning and evaluation of their work experience. Many schools and colleges are already using this as the basis of their careers and work-related learning provision, to ensure that careers education is fully organised and integrated into their curriculum.

Having received the Work Experience Quality Standard, ASDAN are delighted to be receiving an award from Fair Train at the House of Commons this week, in recognition of our high-quality Apprenticeship provision. Our in-house training programmes develop the same skills that form the basis of our curriculum programmes; we are proud to practise what we preach.

Author: Gareth Lewis, Former ASDAN National Development Co-ordinator


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