The Ultimate Guide to Offering Work Experience
Work experience placements are a two-way street; they should benefit both parties, not weighing down the business or boring the participant. Don’t underestimate the up and coming generation; they have so much to offer if you just give them the chance! If you’re interested in adding some new talent to your team, keep on reading.
Why training is so important for young people?
Experiencing the real world of work is a formative aspect of a young person’s transition from education to full time employment. It gives a young person experience of working life and perhaps even a taste of their future career. As well as raising your business’s profile, placements in the company can introduce young people’s eyes to careers they may not have previously considered.
Furthermore, as a young unemployed person, a lack of insight into the working world can be a significant barrier to finding a job. You can help up-skill a new generation of workers, improving their employability and giving them the opportunity to learn skills from an adult role model.
Why it is good for you – the business?
And now for the most important part: what’s in it for you?
- Find potential employees by working with interns; the placement can be a risk-free trial period during which you can decide whether the participant would be a suitable staff member.
- Build relationship with schools or universities, raising awareness for your company and your opportunities. Working with younger people, especially students, will give you an insight into modern education and enable your business to work more effectively with new hires
- Get fresh inspiration and up-to-date skills for your business. Young people are usually eager to learn, so they may be more flexible and willing to get involved. They might also have great social media or IT skills that your organisation doesn’t yet have. In addition, if young people are your target market, listening to a young person’s perspective on your product or service can provide help you better understand your audience.
- Bringing in an intern can also benefit the rest of your staff; studies have shown that taking on students for work experience can provide developmental benefits to the existing workforce in areas such as communication, training, and negotiation.
- More manpower during busy periods. If it’s less than a month, it’s very cost-effective since you don’t have to pay the intern!
How to run a good work experience
- Define the role. It is crucial that you have a clear idea of what the young person will do, so that you make the most of both your time and theirs. What will the intern’s responsibilities be and what will he or she learn from them? The work placements should not be just about fetching coffee, but giving the individual a insight into the job, business, and industry. Furthermore, unless the placement is specifically labelled as work shadowing, make sure the intern does more than just sit in during meetings! Give them active work so that they can learn through experience; simply observing isn’t quite enough.
- Training and induction. Starting work at a new company can seem daunting to anybody, so make sure that your intern is equipped with the skills to feel at ease and be successful. Start with an orientation session – whether it’s simply a one-on-one chat or large presentation. Once you have identified the tasks the intern will perform, note the areas of training that will be necessary. The appropriate skills training can range from how to use the software systems or even just how to work the phone system and answer calls. Make sure that the rest of the staff know that an intern will be coming in, and perhaps specify what roles the employees will take. Will somebody be assigned as a mentor? Who will be the immediate point of contact? Which brings us to the next point…
- Appoint supervision. Although it is important to foster independent thinking, interns will need somebody to answer questions and offer feedback. It’s mutually frustrating when an intern makes a mistake because she was afraid to say that she didn’t know how to do it. Asking questions shouldn’t be frowned upon, but encouraged.
- Provide feedback during the job, as well as afterwards. It’s often helpful to evaluations during their time there, so that the intern can asks questions or correct their performance if necessary. And of course, have a final evaluation to wrap up the work experience placement. This is not only beneficial for the individual, but also gives the business feedback about how the placement was run and whether there needs to be any changes in the future.
- Stay compliant! Make sure that you read up on the government’s policy on unpaid interns to make sure that you don’t get mired in any legal woes. Read below for the legalities:
First and foremost, we define work experience as unpaid work that last a month or less and involves real projects and training.
We’re capping it at a month so that the placement is a relationship that both the business and young person gain from it. We want to make sure that unpaid workers are not treated unfairly. In the past, many businesses realised that they could operate a ‘revolving door’ policy in which they continuously hired interns, in effect, free labour. This spelled disaster for young people – the more they worked for free, the more elusive paid work became. However, we have seen a real change in the UK business community regarding internships, and Rise To wants to ensure that interns don’t feel that they are being taken advantage of.
For placements lasting for more than two months, please adhere to the government’s policy on internships. According to the National Minimum Wage policy, you must pay a worker minimum wage if there is a contract (oral or written), or if you take on an unpaid intern with a promise of paid work in the future.
You aren’t required to pay the minimum wage in the following situations:
- Student internships for less than one year as part of a UK higher education course
- School work experience placements (under 16 years old)
- Voluntary workers at a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fundraising body
Offering work experience is an opportunity to help young people develop an insight into the skills and attitude needed for business, and prepare them for the world of work. It’s always a big leap to bring in somebody new to the office, but the right intern can really enhance both the business and the atmosphere.