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Most students come to college to gain the qualifications and skills they need to enter employment or study at a higher level. In today’s market it’s worth considering additional ways of getting ahead and gaining the edge with employers and admissions tutors in your college interview.

Work experience is a great way of doing this. It shows admissions tutors and employers that you have taken the time to gain experience in your chosen career area and it's a good way to check that your dream job in your chosen industry is really what you think it is.

What is a work experience placement?

Work experience refers to a specified period of time that you will spend working within a business to learn directly about working life and the work environment.

Some work experience positions will offer you the chance to try particular tasks, while others provide the opportunity to watch and learn first-hand. The nature and length of the work experience can vary, but these arrangements can be agreed in advance with you, the student and the employer via the College. 

Why is work experience important?

Work experience is vitally important for both young people and employers. The experience can help both make an informed decision about the future. The more first-hand knowledge you, as a student can gain about a job role, the work environment and what is expected of you in the workplace, the more successful you will be in finding employment and fitting into your new role in the business. Equally, work experience can provide a business with a potential pipeline of new talent, the chance to ‘try before they buy’ and the reassurance that a potential new recruit has already gained some understanding of the work environment either through experience with them or another organisation.

Are work experience students paid?

There is no legal requirement for a business to pay a student for work experience as you are there to learn as part of your continuing programme of study. In some cases, however, employers do offer to contribute to your travel expenses, pay for lunches or extend an employee benefit.

What are the benefits of work experience?

Work experience offers you the following benefits:

  • enables you to develop vital employability skills
  • provides an insight into the real work environment
  • helps you gain confidence in the workplace
  • increases your knowledge of a job role or industry and the skills it requires
  • increases your chance of finding employment on completion of your course
  • improves your communication skills, particularly in dealing with people of all ages
  • helps you build your CV
  • helps you understand how skills you are learning in college relate to the workplace.
How can I find work experience?

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