A meaningful work placement can have a huge impact on a young person, giving then an understanding of the realities of work and providing first-hand experience of the skills and personal qualities required in your industry. It enables them to make more informed choices about their future career pathways.
We’ve provided some examples of good practice below that you might find useful when considering enhancements to your current offer.
Asking the young person to apply for a placement can provide them with invaluable experience. It will give you the opportunity to find out about their interests, skills and abilities as well setting out both of your expectations for the placement. You could do this by either a formal recruitment process or simply by having an informal chat prior to the start of their placement.
Consider allocating a separate mentor to ‘look after’ the young person during their placement, check how things are going, take them to lunch, help them with any questions and act as a more general contact. Try to select an employee who is naturally helpful, good with people and has the desire to help a young person in their working life.
For placements to have a positive impact they should be structured, challenging, interactive, and as close to a real work environment as possible so think ‘tasks not tea’.
It’s beneficial to have a structured work plan. Be clear on the tasks you want the young person to carry out and manage their expectations. Your work plan should be flexible enough that is can be tailored to the young person’s individual interests and abilities.
You could give the young person a project to complete during their placement. This could relate to an area you are particularly keen to get young people’s views on, or something they are interested in and give them an opportunity to present on this at the end of the placement.
It’s a good idea to give the young person the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience during the placement. Get their views on how well the work experience was run and any improvements which could be made for future placements. If appropriate, offer further support by agreeing to act as a referee and encourage the young person to stay in touch.