This blog aims to help you understand how you can manage a work experience placement so that it is a successful and worthwhile exercise, for both the student/volunteer involved and your organisation.
How to manage work experience requests by citrus HR
Work experience is a great way for young people to gain an insight into the world of work and can play an important role in helping them to decide on the career path they wish to take. This blog aims to help you understand how you can manage a work experience placement so that it is a successful and worthwhile exercise, for both the student/volunteer involved and your organisation.
Work experience is generally only for a limited and relatively short period of time; often only one or two weeks, although this can vary. However long you are planning to host anyone on work experience you’ll need to make sure that you have everything in place before they arrive.
You may be worried about whether you need to carry out background checks on employees who will be supervising work experience students. However, DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are generally not required for supervising 16–17-year-olds, and they are only required in relation to work experience where an employee’s specific job role includes supervising work experience students who are under 16. You do of course still have a responsibility to make sure that anyone undertaking work experience with you is safe.
Health and Safety is another important consideration, and perhaps not as burdensome as you might imagine. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have some great guidance on their website, Young people at work – work experience – HSE which explains exactly what you need to do in terms of risk assessment, and also explains that most liability insurance (provided that your insurer is a member of the Association of British Insurers or Lloyds) will already cover anyone on work experience.
Essentially, you do have responsibility for the health and safety of work experience students, you will need a risk assessment (proportionate to the environment), but there are very few work activities a student cannot do because of health and safety law. If you are arranging work experience through a school or other educational establishment they will usually help you to make sure that you are doing everything that you ought to be.
You will also need to decide whether you should be paying (at least) the National Minimum Wage. It is your responsibility to decide whether the person is a worker for minimum wage purposes and, if they are, whether an exemption applies to them.
Many work experience placements will only involve shadowing or observing work being done, so with no work being undertaken there is no need for minimum wage to be paid. Also, anyone doing a work experience placement as a volunteer would not class as a worker for minimum wage purposes.
Further information on Minimum Wage and Work Experience can be found here: Minimum wage: work experience and internships – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Once you’ve done all the preparation required in advance, you’ll be ready for the work experience placement to begin.
Even though the work experience placement is likely to be for a short period you’ll want to make sure that they get a proper induction. You want them to be safe, you want them to feel comfortable and you want them to get the most out of the experience.
Any induction should include:
An introduction to the company, its background and who their key contacts will be.
Any health safety information they need to know (fire exits, first aid processes, etc.) and the whereabouts of facilities such as toilets, kitchens, and so on.
A discussion of their goals for the placement and your expectations of them.
A plan for the placement itself; sometimes this may even be broken down to where they will be and what they will be doing each day.
In order to make sure that the experience is as rewarding and useful as possible, it’s worth considering what the student wants to gain from their time with you before creating a plan for the placement. Do they want to focus on a specific department or departments? Do they want to get a general overview of what your organisation does? If it’s the latter, you’ll probably want to give them a varied experience with exposure to as many areas of the business as possible, with the opportunity to speak with a wide variety of employees/managers/directors.
It makes sense for you to have a clear plan of how the young person will be supported and supervised during their placement. There should be someone who is allowed sufficient time to supervise the person doing work experience; this could be a good opportunity for someone with management potential to develop their supervisory capabilities. As part of the induction, it should made clear to the young person what is expected of them and who they should go to if they have any problems. You may also wish to appoint a ‘buddy’ (in each department to be visited if necessary) who can support the student informally throughout the day.
If the work experience placement has been organised through a school or other educational establishment it is likely that they will have a formal feedback process in place, but even if this is not the case it makes sense to meet with the young person at the end of their work experience. This is an opportunity to make sure that young person has got what they need from the experience, to find out how things went and what could be improved. It’s also an opportunity to provide feedback to the student about things that they might want to work on before they seek employment in the future.
If you’ve been impressed you might want to encourage the young person to get back in touch when they are looking for work, or you may wish to offer a reference for future educational or employment opportunities.
Overall, work experience can be a beneficial experience for both the person undertaking the placement and the organisation itself.
For the organisation it could be an opportunity to assess potential future recruits, to benefit from the insights that a fresh pair of eyes can bring, to allow existing employees to gain some supervisory experience, or, as many work experience requests come from the children of employees, it could be a way of enhancing the satisfaction and engagement of your existing workforce. It can also be a way of tapping into a wider talent pool and of reaching individuals from a more diverse range of backgrounds.
It does take a bit of work to set it up initially, but once that’s done it should only require a review and limited changes thereafter. Work experience can be a rewarding experience for all concerned and it’s not too difficult to organise and manage.
Latest news, events, and updates on all things app related, plus useful advice on app advisory - so you know you are ahead of the game.