Work Experience row should end, says CIPD

  28th February 2012      
 Company News, Employment

The CIPD, which sets global standards for the best practice in Human Resources, has called for an end to the row over ‘unpaid’ work experience.

The institute has warned that the recent media storm, which has, at times, compared voluntary unpaid work experience to slave labour, “is in danger of discouraging employers from offering placements and denying young people a route into permanent employment”.

The scheme, which sees Jobcentre Plus placing young unemployed people in work placements, whilst still paying their job-seekers allowance, has attracted great debate. However, the CIPD argues that good quality work experience is invaluable for young people trying to enter the world of work. Not only could it lead directly to employment within a company, but it can also be a way for young people to gain, and demonstrate, a good work ethic which in turn may help in the pursuit of permanent employment.

However, many argue that these work experience placements take advantage of free labour, highlighting the point that employers have a duty to offer valuable work experience placements that can truly benefit a young person.

In line with this aim, the CIPD, in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus, published guidelines in 2011, called Work Experience Placements that Work, in order to help employers develop effective work experience placements for 18-24 year olds that benefit both the young person and the employer.

The guidance highlights the benefits of work experience for individuals and employers alike, but that to achieve those benefits they must:

– Be personalised to support individual circumstances and aspirations
– Provide support and mentoring
– Place a strong emphasis on learning and skills development
– Give a positive insight into the working world.

Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at the CIPD, comments: “In the current labour market, experience of the working world is the single most important aspect employers look for when recruiting, so without it young people struggle to get a job.

“Work experience is a proven way of giving young people a first step on the employment ladder; it enhances their employability by giving them insight and experience of the working world.

“Employers have responsibilities to provide good quality schemes that boost employability and young people need to commit to placements and attend regularly if they are to get any value out of them.”

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