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Work Experience: Is it the Key to a Successful Career or are Employers Expecting Too Much?

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 24, 2012 | 3 Comments

work-experience-image2With youth unemployment in the UK at an all time high, we should be doing all we can to encourage employers to help young people.

However, earlier this year, the CIPD warned that news headlines associating voluntary unpaid work experience with ‘slave labour, is in danger of denying young people a route into permanent employment by discouraging employers.

The uproar was caused by the idea that private sector companies would take on young people and offer unpaid apprenticeships. Whilst there is no guarantee of a job at the end, the employer does at least have the obligation to interview the apprentice for a full time position.

What’s not to love?

To begin with, this sounded promising. Then the government announced that young people who don’t attend the unpaid work experience could face losing benefits, such as job seekers allowance.

In effect, the government launched a pilot scheme designed to enable young Londoners to contribute to their communities in line with the Government’s aim to ensure a wider social contribution.

So, could this new initiative reduce the risks of benefit dependency and increase the chances of long-term employment? Or is the term ‘work experience’ so sullied that even if it were rebranded and reinstated, companies are now wary of jumping on the wagon?

What do you think?

We set out and asked you what your thoughts are. Do you think work experience is the key to a successful career or are employers expecting too much?

The results revealed that 27% of you think companies offering work experience, regardless of the work, should offer some form of salary or wage. 25% believe work experience is the key to a successful career. The remaining 48%, however, said that whether you deem work experience as a positive or negative in terms of career success is dependent on the type of work undertaken.

What does this mean for young people?

The job market is candidate-rich and it’s important to ensure young people get the skills which employers are crying out for in order to succeed.

Ultimately, work experience is an invaluable way for young people to develop these key skills. Not only that, it helps you to develop the right attitude and work ethic that will help to secure future employment.

However, it seems fair to argue that employers who do offer unpaid work experience have the responsibility to offer high quality apprenticeships and placements that provide genuine opportunities for young people to increase their employability.

Do you think work experience is a proven way of gaining a first step on the employment ladder? Or has the term been desecrated and is just an excuse for cheap labour? Is this new initiative fair and will the scheme work? Have your say below.

3 thoughts on “Work Experience: Is it the Key to a Successful Career or are Employers Expecting Too Much?

  1. Jad Rabah on Reply

    It is a serious problem, I faced this when i graduated, i graduated in engineering with high distinction, yet no matter where i apply, the prefer to hire somebody with experience. I had to work jobs that barely had anything to do with my major, at a “less-than-technician” compensation, just so i could gains some experience to start my career. (which was stupid because this experience also had nothing to do with my domain)

  2. Web Recruit on Reply

    Absolutely agree with your comment. Up until now, it had been a catch 22, people wanted experience, but how could you get the experience. This new initiative means the experience is compulsory. Unfortunately, many people are opposing this (typically because benefits are now associated with it), yet they are forgetting how valuable this could be, and even better, it’s being handed on a plate.

  3. hina on Reply

    How can someone get the job they want when they don t have the experience they need for the job evey employer wants experience how is the perfect employee going to get experience

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