By Marcus Leach

The quality of work experience in the UK needs to improve in order to increase the employability of young people and to dispel negative perceptions towards placements.

This is the message from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) as it teams up with Jobcentre Plus to launch a new work experience guide to help employers raise the quality of work experience available to young job seekers.

The guide is designed to encourage more employers to provide meaningful work experience in order to help young job seekers get a foothold in the labour market. The economic downturn has hit young people harder than any other group, with a large proportion struggling to get their first foot on the ladder and secure their first job.

Work Experience Placements that Work offers employers help on giving young people — aged between 18 and 24 — their first positive and practical experience of work. It is designed to support the Government’s initiative, Get Britain Working, and quality work experience is at the core of the advice, with recommendations on:

- How to structure the work experience
- How to devise a work plan, around appropriate tasks
- How to support and supervise
- How to provide constructive feedback
- How to help the candidate enter working life

It also contains a checklist for the employer running a placement and a ‘Work Experience Agreement’ that can be signed by the employer and the young person, helping to ensure commitment on both sides.

“Employers can be reluctant to employ a young person with no work experience as they see them as a risk rather than as a productive employee, especially in difficult economic times," Katerina Rüdiger, Skills Policy Adviser, CIPD, said.

"Managed properly, though, a work experience placement can benefit both the individual and the employer. This guide will be a great tool for employers wishing to run quality work experience programmes, which in the long-run should go a long way in dispelling any negative perceptions”.

“Work experience should sit alongside apprenticeships and internships as a valuable way to make young people more employable, but also to help organisations to access new talent through employees that are work-ready. The CIPD is committed to promoting good practice in the workplace at every opportunity and we know that work experience placements are an important tool for tackling the problem of youth unemployment.”

Employment Minister Chris Grayling added:

“Getting hands-on work experience in a business can really improve young people’s confidence, employability and prospects in the jobs market. That’s why we changed the work experience rules so that young people can benefit from gaining valuable experience in a business for up to two months without losing their benefit.

"Employers are of course key to getting young people into work — I would urge organisations to consider offering placements to help make use of the talent and enthusiasm of young people but also as a way of introducing individuals to the modern world of work."

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