Work Experience and Your Partnership - How a Partnership based around Work Experience can be Beneficial

One of the community business partnership models based around learning and knowledge exchange is that of work experience.

Work experience sees young people, usually students, get out of the classroom for a week or two and spend some time in a workplace environment.

The whole basis of work experience is that of a partnership approach – that a business works with a community body (usually a school or educational institution) to provide students with a chance to better themselves and learn through work experience opportunities.

Not only that, but a community business partnership based around work experience can not only offer an important opportunity to students, but can benefit your business and the wider community as well.

The Benefits for Business of a Work Experience-based Partnership

Many businesses may feel that a partnership based around work experience holds very few benefits for them. In fact the opposite is true – being part of a work experience arrangement with a community partner can bring about many positives for your firm.

They include:
  • Work experience providing an ideal opportunity for your business to promote itself as a caring organisation.
    • It offers you a chance to present yourself as an "employer of choice" through your willingness to be involved in the community.
  • Being involved "shows off" your business to potential future employees – and through them their families, friends, classmates, teachers and the school community.
    • This show of community involvement can open up new possibilities for customers and for future investors as well.
  • Linked to that is the ability being involved in work experience gives you to "sell yourself" to people in the community.
  • It also provides a means of keeping up with changes in the education system though your close links to a school, educational institution and students.
 Remember – those students sitting in classrooms today are the ones who are the workforce of tomorrow … and they could be your workforce!

Benefits of a Work Experience-based Partnership from a Community Perspective

The non business-related benefits of a work experience-based partnership are well-known and easier to see.

For students, work experience helps them:
  • Increase their self-confidence and social skills.
  • Learn skills and attitudes needed by employers in the workforce.
  • Learn the importance of other "work-skills" – turning up on time, dressing appropriately for the job, discipline and attendance.
  • Increase their awareness and understanding of the importance and relevance of:
    • Communication
    • Relevant job skills.
    • Improving their own knowledge and performance.
    • Teamwork, working with others.
The wider community also benefits from work experience through:
  • A more knowledgeable future workforce.
  • A future workforce that is better trained and better ready to enter a job after completing their education. Because of this they'll be able to add to the community and its progress.
  • Encouragement for students to better themselves, and in turn benefit the community.
  • The building of good relationships and communication lines between businesses and the educational institutions in the area.

Getting Involved

Getting involved in a work experience-based partnership can be as simple as putting your hand up to volunteer for a work experience program at your local school.

Remember - most schools will run one, or at most, two, sessions of work experience a year, with those sessions only lasting a week or two. It's not as if your business would have to host a work experience student for 45 weeks of the year!

You don't even have to set up a huge formal program, all your business may need to do is be willing to allow students to gain work experience on your premises maybe two or three times a year.

There are a couple of things you should think about if your business is interested in being involved in a work experience program:
  • Ensure you are involved in a reputable program with a reputable partner – an acredited school or training facility for example.

  • Talk to your education sector partner about anything you need to become part of their work experience program.
    • That may include alterations to insurance coverage, forms to sign, assurances of workplace security and safety and good working conditions.
    • Make sure you are up to the mark in all of these areas before having a work experience student visit.
  • Finally – treat any work experience students you host properly and with respect.
    • Make sure you have plenty for them to do, but not too much – don't treat a work experience student like a slave, but don't have them looking bored either. Find the middle ground and they will come away from their work experience with a positive impression of you and your industry.
    • Make sure they are also treated with respect in the workplace. Not only do they deserve it, but if they are bullied or treated badly in any way it will make your business look bad and possibly leave it open to legal proceedings.

For further information on a work experience-based partnership, refer to the An Introduction to Employment/Work Experience Help Sheet available at the Community Business Partnerships Brokerage Service section of the Our Community website.

To see if a work experience-based partnership is the right partnership for you, refer to the Help Sheets Finding the Best Partnership Model for your Business (two part) and Finding the Best Partnership Model for Your Community Group (two part).