Bring back compulsory work experience in schools, say business leaders

A leading business group is calling for compulsory work experience to be re-instated for school pupils.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) wants employment placements brought back for students aged 14 to 16.

Mike Cherry, FSB chairman, said: “More than 40 per cent of small firms already offer work experience either as part of the recruitment process or through their community outreach but now it’s time that this is taken to the next level.

Work experience

“Smaller firms are more likely to hire people from harder-to-reach backgrounds, which is why the reintroduction of work experience would be a valuable leg-up for students looking to experience work and small firms looking to plug their recruitment gaps in the future.”

Work experience for Key Stage 4 pupils at secondary school was axed from the curriculum in 2012 by the coalition government.

The FSB said this had made it harder for youngsters to get their first taste of the employment skills they will need.

Axed in 2012

A survey of teenagers last year by Career Colleges Trust found an overwhelming majority (83 per cent) felt work experience should be compulsory.

More than a third of teens (37 per cent) reported not having done any work experience at school but 51 per cent had organised their own placement.

Some 41 per cent surveyed felt relevant work experience was of more value than just a degree qualification when applying for a job.

Organised own placements

And more than half (57 per cent) said work experience allowed you to gain valuable skills which are not taught in the classroom.

A British Chambers of Commerce spokeswoman said: “We have called for all young people to have a quality experience of the world of work to improve their understanding and aspirations and open their eyes to fantastic opportunities in local business communities.

“As part of our campaign to bridge the gap between the world of education and the workplace, we called for better careers advice and stronger links between schools and business. ”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The Secretary of State regularly meets with businesses to talk about preparing young people for adult life and hosted a roundtable last month with 10 of the UK’s best entrepreneurs to discuss how entrepreneurial spirit and traits could be encouraged within our school system.

“Indeed our education reforms, from introducing new GCSEs to overhauling apprenticeships and technical education, are all about giving young people the knowledge, skills and opportunities to succeed in whatever path they choose to follow.

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