Why It’s Never Too Early to Get Work Experience

It’s a Catch-22: you need work experience to get a job, but you need a job to get work experience. Which is why the sooner your child gets some form of experience under their belt, the better.

Whilst schools tend not to offer one-to-one careers sessions or work experience weeks until Year 11, starting the process earlier will only give them more time to think about the options available to them.

That’s just one reason why it’s so important for your child to get an insight into the workplace before leaving school. Keep reading to find out more…

Key reasons for teenagers to secure professional experience

“Today’s young workforce are less prepared for work. According to the Office of National Statistics, the share of school students with some employment (say, a Saturday job) has been going down quite steadily for at least the last 20 years.

Students appear to be focusing more on their studies and on extra-curricular projects. By the time they start their working life, many of them have a steeper learning curve than we did.” The Institute of Student Employers (ISE)

Good grades are a good start. But they’re simply not enough on their own to ensure your child lands their dream role when they leave education.

Whether it’s a traineeship, part-time waitressing job at the local greasy spoon or two-weeks shadowing a professional in their job, here’s how work experience will help your child stay ahead of the curve:

1. Test-drive a career

Whilst your child might have pegged themselves as an accountant the day they were given an abacus, it’s impossible to know what a job is really like until they try it for themselves.

After all, they don’t want to spend up to four years training in accountancy, only to discover they hate all the number crunching and long hours.

A stint in the workplace helps career-conscious young people explore their options and figure out what they like (and don’t like) in the world of work. It’s a chance to get to grips with day-to-day life in a particular role; something that should give them a much better idea of whether or not it’s right for them. 

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2. Learn from the best 

Their colleagues will be five, ten, twenty years ahead in their careers - that’s a lot of knowledge and experience to tap into! It’s a priceless opportunity to build on their understanding of the industry alongside experts in their field.

Encourage them to ask lots of questions whilst they’re there, seek CV and application tips, and to stay in touch with their colleagues when they leave. You never know when they might need a reference or even a job in the future! 

3. Gain essential soft skills

Employers expect candidates to be ‘work-ready’, whether they’re straight out of school, college or university. They want candidates who have spent time developing their skill set in a work environment. And they won’t settle for anything less.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Department for Education (DfE), 65% of businesses said relevant work experience was a critical factor when taking on recruits, regardless of their age.

The more experience your child gets on their CV, the more they will be able to impress recruiters with real-life examples of teamwork, communication and resilience. These could be anything from leading a meeting to stepping up to manage a team on the shopfloor.

“Our message to all those young people receiving their GCSE results this week is that, whatever your results and whatever path you take next, developing those employability skills like self-management and leadership will always give you an edge in a competitive jobs market.” The Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Read our reviews to get the inside scoop on what young people get out of work experience.

Whether your child is applying for an entry-level role, apprenticeship or university, getting professional experience while they are still at school will put them miles ahead of their peers. 

A number of companies across the UK take on students for short work experience placements between the ages of 14 and 18. This is before a lot of school leaver programmes kick into action, giving plenty of time to squeeze a few in before applying!

Top tip: Encourage your child to visit the school careers advisor

Careers advisors are a brilliant source of information - and they can be found in most schools.

They have the knowledge and experience to help your child make an informed choice, ensuring a smooth transition to their next phase of education or training.

As well as helping students explore a variety of career paths, they can support with CV advice, practice face-to-face interviews and making business contacts.