Work experience plays a key role in helping young people plot their career path, says the CII’s Daniel Pedley

You could be forgiven for not realising that Work Experience Week is celebrated every October. And although it does not have the same profile as National Apprenticeships Week, what it celebrates is just as important to employers and to young people thinking about their future.

Work placements and internships are vital in helping young people decide their career path. Research carried out by the CII last year showed that, when it comes to understanding a given career or sector, experiencing the workplace first-hand is much more useful than anything else.

The same research also showed that insurance barely registers with students when considering their job options. There is a wealth of opportunity on offer and providing good quality work experience dispels some of the misconceptions that still surround working in the insurance sector. This is vital if we are to secure future generations of high-quality new entrants.

For employers offering it, work experience can be a cost-effective way of identifying and recruiting motivated and talented individuals. How many times have you seen someone undertake a work placement and return later in a permanent position? In offering placements through local schools, firms can build up good relationships and a pipeline of local talent. And work placements can also benefit existing staff as supervising a student is a good first step on the management ladder.

To ensure both employer and student benefit from the experience, a placement should be properly planned with a clear structure. Employers should consider project work that provides the opportunity for the intern to demonstrate key skills. And any placements should be evaluated at their conclusion.

Offering work experience opportunities should play a part in an employer’s identification of future talent. It is not as difficult as you might think and so why not give it a go?

The CII’s good practice guide provides helpful tips on how to get the most out of work experience and internships. To find out more click here.