For some time, skilled workers have been identified as key to the UK’s economic recovery and future prosperity. But at the same time that skills are being highlighted as crucial to the country’s success, young job seekers – who many would consider our talent of the future – are struggling to get a foothold in the labour market because they lack valuable work experience.

The ‘Work Experience Placements that Work’ guidance document launched by the CIPD and Jobcentre Plus last month, should therefore prove a helpful and timely resource that will encourage employers to truly support the Government’s initiative to ‘Get Britain Working’.

Several recommendations as to how to offer a good quality work experience are laid out in the document, and we should take heed of these to ensure we support both the workforce of the future and also the economy’s attempts to once again flourish. However on the flip-side of this, we all know how difficult it can be to dedicate a sufficient amount of time to effectively structure work experience placements and offer the necessary level of ongoing support during periods of employment.

The document provides advice as to how to:
– Structure the work experience
– Devise a work plan around appropriate tasks
– Support and supervise
– Provide constructive feedback
– Help the candidate enter working life

But why not let HR technology do some of the hard work? If you are considering offering work experience placements, apprenticeships or internships, software can help avoid the administrative headache whilst making the most of the process for both the employer and employee.

For example it is possible to use the software to build competencies for the work experience role, and when it comes to providing the individual with an all-important appraisal, employers can advise what has been achieved. Not only does this highlight a skill-set that the individual can add to their CV, but helpful advice can also be offered as to how they can further improve these skills in the future.

If the work experience is for a considerable length of time, training plans can be devised and tracked. If the aim is to potentially offer an extension of the placement or internship, the priority may be to upskill as soon as possible so that the individual can effectively fulfil the job role.

Successive work experience placements need not be a problem if software is in place. On an operational level, processes can be established so that each intern receives a general company induction. For the duration of the placement, the software is then flexible enough to record and report upon whatever you want; workflows can just be established accordingly. Furthermore, responsibilities can be allocated to line managers, who can then receive prompts as to the necessary actions to take as the supervisor and mentor for these individuals. The formation of these procedures from the outset should mean that work experience placements are effectively planned and controlled, and the risk of an unsuccessful placement minimised.

Many employers are discouraged from offering work experience opportunities as they feel they may not be worthwhile. The input of time and effort may simply be considered too great a burden, especially when businesses are concentrating on getting themselves back on track after difficult times.

But there is no reason why individuals and companies cannot both benefit from the placement experience. Not only is the employer ticking its CSR box, but the additional labour resource may pose a valuable contribution to the company. Who knows, there may even be the opportunity to recruit the individual on a permanent basis in future.


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