Myth Busting – Work Experience - much more than photocopying and making tea!

Date: 13/12/2023
Author: Trafford College Group
Company: Trafford College Group

Can you remember completing work experience? If so, can you remember it being meaningful?

Like many of us whilst on work experience you probably had responsibility for making copious cups of tea and spending an inordinate amount of time filing and photocopying and didn’t learn much about real life work.

Would you be surprised to hear that there has been a shift by employers/education providers, working collaboratively to ensure students on work experience have a fulfilled and meaningful experience?

Why is work experience so important?

29% of employers say that experience is critical when recruiting young people and a further 45% say it is significant. The majority of employers think young people are well prepared for work but where they don’t, this is down to lack of experience. Lack of experience is also the number one reason that employers turn young job applicants away 1 . So, for employers, experience is clearly vital.

1.See UKCES ‘Scaling the Youth Employment Challenge’ and ‘the Youth Employment Challenge’ for more details and sources

I just don’t think it will benefit my business

By taking students on work experience, you get an opportunity to engage, inspire and inform young people about what working life is really like. Aside from knowing you’ve helped a young person start that valuable journey into the world of work there are lots of benefits that you can gain from having students in your workplace:

  • Build a talent pipeline – Students will be seeking work at some point. It’s a great chance to see what upcoming talent there is in your local area and you can develop strong links with the college to help build a (usually free) recruitment service
  • Offer development for existing staff – broaden your employees’ skills and motivate them by involving them in the placement and providing potential line management experience
  • Learn from a fresh, young mindset – young people often bring fresh ideas and approaches which may open up new and emerging markets for the business.


There is too much paperwork involved

We have streamlined paperwork over the years and in general you will asked to provide evidence of: 

  • Employers’ liability insurance which covers work experience students, provided the insurers are members of the Association of British Insurers. This can be confirmed with your insurance company.
  • Simplified Health and Safety guidance makes it clear that if organisations already employ young people, risk assessments won’t need to be repeated for work experience students. And employers with fewer than 5 employees won’t need a written risk assessment.

There is a cost involved to taking on a work experience student

No - Work experience & T-Level industry Placements are a free government scheme – you don’t need to pay to take on a Student for a placement

There may be certain business costs, like time invested in planning, training and supervising, and you can choose to pay the student if you wish.

We have a recruitment freeze – how do placements apply to us?

Placements aren’t the same as job vacancies. There’s no commitment to offer students a job afterwards – although it’s great if this is a possibility. So, there’s no impact on headcount.

If you do decide to recruit, you may have saved significant resources by establishing the placement student’s suitability.

The student will require too much support and I don’t have the time

Yes, students will need some support in the beginning – not dissimilar to any new employee coming into the business needing a bit of guidance. Nominating a member of staff to be their ‘Mentor’ for the week means the student will have someone to report to and is a great way to develop staff in your business.

A little bit of planning prior to the student starting can help resolve any worries. Trafford & Stockport College Group have a dedicated Work Experience Team who can let you know what the student has been studying, and some of the tasks/activities that similar employers with students have allocated to them. This can all help you put a plan together, which can be built on as the student’s confidence and skills develop.

At the Trafford and Stockport College Group we are looking to engage with employers to support our students with work experience (35 hours) and T Level Industry Placements (315 hours).

If you feel able to offer a placement then please do click here - Pledge a Placement  

Alternatively if you want to find out more about engaging, inspiring and informing the next generation drop an email