Working Together For Young People

Work experience: Impact and delivery - Insights from the evidence (April 2012)

An report by Dr Anthony Mann, Director of Research and Policy, Education and Employers Taskforce

Click here to read the report and here to view Anthony's presentation.


Work Experience Report (front cover) 




















Key insights from the research: An overview

Work experience and clarifying career aspirations


Work experience is under-utilised as a means to stretch the career horizons of young people. The problem is that half of placements are found by young people or by their families using largely existing social networks


There is a strong connection between clarity and realism of career aspirations aged 16 and later adult labour market outcomes.


There's significant correlation between career uncertainty or confusion and NEET status at 16 to 18


Work experience helps determine that a specific career is not for the individual. Allowing return to career exploration at a point when decisions over what qualifications to pursue can still be made


Work experience can be a very effective means of challenging social stereotypes about the realism of occupational ambitions


One size does not fit all. More needs to be known about the relative effectiveness of alternative means of workplace exposure, notably career fairs, workplace visits and job shadowing



Work experience and getting into university


Work experience often plays an important, at times essential, role in determining admission to university courses, but this is not well understood by policy makers

Young people taught in independent schools routinely have access to high quality work experience which is more relevant to university admissions than their state-educated counterparts


Greater attention should be given to enabling pupils within the state sector to access experiences comparable with those enjoyed in the private sector


Further research is needed to understand the extent to which work experience shapes university admissions



Work experience and academic attainment

High proportions of both pupils and teaching staff believe that young people return from work experience more motivated todo well at school


Qualitative evidence from teaching staff suggests that different types of pupils respond in different ways to placements


Many believe that work experience helps borderline pupils to achieve academic targets such as five GCSEs


Lower attaining pupils can gain much from the different learning environment presented by extended work experience


Timing work experience to take place towards the end of Year 10 is unlikely to optimise the attainment benefits of placements



Work experience and employment


Young people strongly believe that the work experience helps to develop their employability skills


Around half of work experience placements are sourced directly by pupils or their families, this does not mean a good fit with the realities of demand in the labour market


An estimated one-quarter of pupils are offered part-time employment following a work experience placement


Work experience undertaken closer to ultimate labour market entry (aged 16 - 18) optimises opportunities for jobs to be secured, but is too late to inform important decisions about post-16 educational and training choices