UK teenagers call for work experience to be made compulsory on the curriculum

  • 83 per cent of UK teenagers would like work experience to be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum
  • Over a third (37 per cent) have done no work experience at school
  • Half (51 per cent) of young people surveyed by the Career Colleges Trust have proactively organised their own work experience
  • Teenagers feel that professional training, relevant work experience and school careers advice are more beneficial for their future employment than having any degree qualification

New research of UK teenagers has revealed that an overwhelming majority (83 per cent) would like work experience to be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

Since the Government scrapped compulsory work experience in 2012, a number of schools have either stopped offering or enforcing it, with research revealing that over a third (37 per cent) of teenagers have done no work experience at school.

Traditional education environments are the least likely to offer work experience, with secondary schools and grammar schools found to have lower numbers of teenagers partaking in work opportunities, compared to further education colleges and Career Colleges.

Despite this, there is clearly a burning desire amongst ambitious young people to experience the world of work for themselves, with over half (51 per cent) of the nation’s teenagers saying they have proactively organised their own work experience opportunities.

The research by the Career Colleges Trust also found that more than two thirds (67 per cent) of today’s teenagers believe work experience is beneficial for finding employment, seeing what working in a certain sector is like (63 per cent) and more than half (56 per cent) believe it allows you to learn valuable skills that are not taught in the classroom.

Whilst it’s encouraging to see this positive reaction and understanding, there is more work to be done in showing just how vital this type of experience is with fewer teenagers understanding that it can offer a competitive advantage in the job market (35 per cent) or valuable networking opportunities (32 per cent).

The survey also looked into teenagers’ attitudes towards their future careers. Whilst parents and schools have often been criticised for pushing more traditional university routes, teenagers felt that professional training (55 per cent), relevant work experience (41 per cent), a strong CV (40 per cent) and good careers advice in school (26 per cent) were all more important than just having any degree qualification (20 per cent) when it came to getting a job.

In fact, to achieve the future career of their dreams, a proactive 91 per cent of committed teenagers have or would consider taking a part time job, work experience (90 per cent), transferring to a specialist college (67 per cent) or undertaking an apprenticeship (72 per cent).

Ruth Gilbert, CEO of the Career Colleges Trust, says:

“It is clear from this research that today’s teenagers are desperate for good work experience opportunities and are very much aware of the benefit this will have on their future career.

“Schools are increasingly narrowing their curriculums, with more emphasis on academic subjects to meet Progress 8 measure and perform well in the league tables. This is having a negative effect on students who not only would benefit from a more vocational pathway but on ALL students who need experience of industry.

“Work experience is a key component of both the Government’s Careers Strategy and T-Levels – yet it is not featuring on the curriculum at many schools. Career Colleges are leading the way with sector specialist, employer-led pathways and schools should be supported to follow suit and create a much clearer line of sight from education to employment.

“Crucially, our research shows that young people themselves WANT the opportunity to develop employability skills and recognise the importance of doing this. Schools, employers and the Government simply must work together to support this.”

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