It's a way of giving pupils experience of the industry. A recent National Careers Construction Group survey of A level students showed that work experience or shadowing is a major factor in career choice.
Why do pupils do work experience?
Work placements are now compulsory. Students must have placements in years 10, 11 and 12 – when they are 14, 15 and 16 years old. The placements for year-10 pupils are designed to give them general experience of the working world. The next two placements should be vocationally oriented. These help students to decide what careers they are interested in.
How long are placements?
They generally last one or two weeks.
Why should employers offer placements?
It gives employers the opportunity to influence the quality of future recruits by spotting potential employees early on. It also influences students' career choices. This is particularly important for construction, which has suffered from a poor image. Offering work placements can also help raise a company's profile in the community. It is not just students who learn about the company, but parents and teachers, too.
Are there any other benefits?
Companies are often unaware of changes in the curriculum that could affect the flow of suitably qualified job candidates. By liaising with schools to set up placements, employers can keep in touch with changes and may even be able to influence course content.
How should placements be set up?
Schools and employers should come up with a set of clear objectives for the placement. Teachers should be fully briefed so that pupils know what to expect and the company and school should organise induction and evaluation sessions for the students.
What issues should firms be aware of?
When organising placements, companies need to ensure that their insurance policy covers students working on the premises. Some policies only cover school visits, so firms should check with their insurer. The school and the employer also need to be aware of health and safety regulations. Pupils and the host firm's employees should be properly briefed.
How can employers find a school to organise work placements with?
Contact the education manager of your local Training and Enterprise Council as they may already have arrangements with local schools. The Education Business Partnership, a local careers service, or any other organisation that provides a link for businesses and the community may be able to help. Construction Industry Training Board curriculum centres also act as brokers for pupils.
Jayne Burridge can be contacted at the National Careers Construction Group on 07887-895476. Information is also available from the Department for Education and Employment, which produces a booklet called the Work Experience Guide for Employers.