Learning from work experience: helping young people identify and

Learning from work experience:
helping young people identify and
articulate learning outcomes
Faith Muir and Trisha Fettes
Centre for Education and Industry
University of Warwick
The Wolf Report
‘Helping young people to obtain genuine work
experience - and therefore, what the CBI calls
‘employability skills’ - should be one of the highest
priorities for 16-18 education policy in the next few
years. It is far more important than even a few years
ago, because of labour market trends; and is made
critical by the impact on youth unemployment of the
most recent recession.’
Wolf, March 2011: 130
‘Post-16 work experience, progression and
HE’ - CEI Symposium: key findings
From discussion groups:
• We should get away from the idea that work experience is ‘a
• We need to re-focus on learning and achievement … including
developing students’ ability to identify and articulate their
own learning, and also consider how that learning may be
applied back into their course at school, college or university.
MD of an SME:
• As an employer, it’s a problem when we get ‘identikit’
applications. We like young people to come to us with a clear
view of what they want to learn.
CEI Symposium findings continued
• Young people should have the best quality (not just
quantity of) work experience at the time they need
it, with guidance and support
• Further research/discussion is needed on what is
meant by quality and progression of learning; and
dissemination of good practice
• Equality of opportunity is an important issue to be
continually addressed
CEI Symposium findings continued
• Encourage learners to take increasing responsibility
for their work experience/learning as they move
through education
• Encourage continuity in learning through a
collaborative approach, e.g. on-going conversations
between learners, employers and staff (in schools,
colleges, HE)
• Student voice is important in ensuring fitness-forpurpose: what students see as relevant, understand
about work experience and why they are doing it
Post-16 student research – key findings
Learning gained from pre-16 work experience
• Something new, an insight into a specific job,
practical skills
• Skills in communication, IT, working with others/
• Time management, a sense of professionalism,
Post-16 student research continued
Some of the benefits of pre-16 work experience
• Develops a better understanding of the world of work
• Helps you to develop a work ethic and prepare you for life
beyond school
• Gives a real world exposure…
• Matured me as a student
• Motivates GCSE success
• Allows you to build on existing skills
• Good way to apply the skills you learn in school to a working
Post-16 student research continued
Pre-16 work experience
• Allows for the development of ideas and aspirations
• Often you don’t know what you have learnt until you have to
think about your post-16 placement
• It can help in deciding on the type of placement, how to get
the most out of it, knowing what to expect and how to plan
Post-16 student research continued
Learning gained from post-16 work experience
• Skills in communication, IT, working with others/
• Subject skills (scientific, mathematical)
• Practical skills
• Insights into specific jobs and work environments
• Personal organisation skills, time management
• Independence; self-reliance; how to get the job done’
Post-16 student research continued
Some of the benefits of post-16 work experience
• Helps in making career decisions
– e.g. know best route to take; learn more about chosen career
pathway; eliminate/confirm initial career choice; know preferred type
of work environment; obtain expert advice; consider university
• Encourages students to do better in current studies
– e.g. informs subject choice; develops understanding of the relevance
of subject knowledge/ skills to the workplace, improves IT skills
• Equips students to make successful applications
– e.g. a key experience; something to talk about in interview
Post-16 student recommendations
Don’t doubt it until you try it!
Advice to other students:
a) Choose your placement carefully:
• …so it’s suited to you
• don’t rely on school-sourced placements unless you genuinely
don’t know what to do
b) Have the right attitude before work experience
• Be prepared – know your stuff about the company and the job
– to make the most of it
• Make sure you are passionate about where you are going and
know what you want to do
• Do something related to your career aspirations
• have an open mind; … a positive attitude
c) Have the right attitude during your placement
• Give a good first impression; … work hard
• Have fun, stay safe and enjoy it – use the experience to your
• … get as much experience as you can
Next steps
• Networking to identify related research activities
• Dissemination of examples of practice
• Second work experience symposium: work
experience, progression and employers
12 March 2013, University of Warwick
Faith Muir: [email protected]
Trisha Fettes: [email protected]
• Wolf, A. (March 2011) Review of Vocational Education – The
Wolf Report
• Department for Education (2011) Wolf Review of Vocational
Education Government Response
• Department for Education Consultation on removing the duty
to deliver work-related learning at key stage 4 Summary of
consultation responses 6 October 2011 to 4 January 2012

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