In association with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the survey of over 210 of the region’s business bosses and education leaders found that 82% of business respondents, and 73% of respondents from schools, colleges and universities believe secondary schools should offer work experience for pupils aged under 16.
Work experience is not offered universally across the UK and in England, in particular, it has been deprioritised.* However, the survey found that 79% of employers think work experience is the most important activity to equip young people with workplace skills, followed by paid part-time work (65%) and volunteering (55%).
While the majority of businesses offer some form of work experience, a third of businesses (34%) offer no work experience of any kind. Micro and small businesses, in particular, need greater support to offer work experience.
Further findings from the survey:
Businesses should prioritise delivery of work experience.
- 52% of firms identified work experience as the top priority activity for businesses to offer young people, over part-time paid work (17%), business mentoring (11%), enterprise activities (9%), volunteering (7%), and other (4%).
- 57% of educational establishments think work experience is the top priority for business to support, with 43% selecting the mentoring of pupils/students by members of the business community.
There’s no single ideal work experience model – businesses that offer work experience value a variety of models.
- 41% of firms offer one to two week term-time work experience placements, 31% offer work placements during school holidays, 25% offer flexible work placements and 19% arrange visits to their businesses for groups of pupils.
Two-thirds of businesses offer work experience of some form. Those that don’t say they need more support and encouragement to offer work experience.
- 34% of businesses offer no work experience of any kind.
- Firms that don’t currently offer work experience would be encouraged to do so by having more information about what is required (48%), someone to facilitate the relationship with the school (31%) and clarity on the benefits to their business (22%).
Commenting, NECC policy advisor Paul Carbert, said:
“Links between education and business are essential to ensure we are producing young people who are ready to fill roles within the North East labour market and are comfortable in the working environment.
“Business and school leaders are clear: we won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.
“Work experience is crucial to bringing down a high youth unemployment rate. It will help ensure more young people are prepared for work and help close the skills gaps reported by frustrated businesses who face huge difficulty filling vacancies at every level.
“A great deal of progress has been made in recent years, but we must continue to work hard if we are to make significant in-roads into addressing regional youth unemployment and potential skills shortages in key sectors in our region.”