Preparing our children for the world of work is pretty tough in a country where work experience programmes are thin on the ground, yet most teens are chomping at the bit to try on possible careers for size.
Work experience programmes offer clear advantages to the student, but the benefits of a well-thought out, structured programme (don’t attempt to wing it!) can also reap rewards for your organisation, a fact borne out by the popularity of accredited schemes such as the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) in the UK.
The NCWE counts big players such as Marks & Spencer and GlaxoSmithKline among its members, as well as small business and ‘micro’ enterprises of less than 10 employees.
So, why do they offer work experience programmes? And, more importantly, why should you?
1. Boost your corporate social responsibility.
There is a strong altruistic element to offering work experience. It’s satisfying and rewarding to ‘give back’ to the community and support our youth. And any form of CSR is an extremely effective marketing tool.
2. Raise your profile.
You have the opportunity to be seen as an innovator, contributing to the long-term development of the education and business community. Successful work experience programmes reinforce your corporate brand, improving your reputation and identity among potential and existing employees, business partners and customers – many of whom will also be parents.
3. Promote interest in your industry.
With a rapidly changing job market, many employers are facing significant skills shortages, particularly in niche industries that are not well-known or not considered ‘cool’ or attractive. Work experience is one way employers can overcome stereotypes, contribute to training a future workforce and influence the career aspirations and choices of a whole generation.
4. Attract and retain high calibre staff.
Interns can often be converted into enthusiastic staff who, having already been ‘tried and tested’ can quickly add value to the organisation. Work experience gives you the opportunity to conduct on-the-job assessments with no obligation and, of course, cut the cost of hiring.
5.Keep abreast of trends and new ways of thinking.
Young ‘Generation Y’-ers pick up new technology and social media concepts so much quicker than those of us over 35. Young people ask questions and bring a fresh perspective to routine tasks and traditional ways of doing things. They often have new solutions or the time to research alternative approaches to workplace problems and practices.
6. Conquer those ‘special projects’.
Be it research projects or administrative tasks, students can undertake non-priority jobs that existing employees do not have the time to manage. Remember, the most valuable work experiences involve students as much as possible in all aspects of the day-to-day running of your organisation – the good, the bad and the ugly!
7. Motivate and develop existing staff.
Organising students will not only develop your employees’ management skills, but most employees will get a great, personal buzz from helping and advising a young person with their career. It’s a rewarding and enriching experience.
If you are interested in offering work experience, contact Nicola on 04 443 9283 or visit www.smartpeoplecoaching.com.