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Teenagers in the West Midlands call for compulsory work experience

Compulsory work experience should be put back on the school curriculum say 14-19 year olds.

In a survey of over 1000 teenagers carried out by the Career Colleges Trust, the overwhelming majority – 83% – think that work experience should be compulsory on their school / college curriculum, suggesting the Government was wrong to remove it from the curriculum in 2012.

In the West Midlands region, 84% of respondents think work experience should be compulsory. Around a quarter (23%) reported not having done any work experience at school yet nearly two thirds (60%) had proactively organised their own placement.

Nationally, more than two thirds (67%) of those asked believe work experience is beneficial for finding employment, with more than half (56%) saying that it allows you to learn valuable skills that are not taught in the classroom.

Traditional education environments including secondary and grammar schools, were highlighted in the research as being the least likely to offer work experience, with students at Career Colleges and FE Colleges taking part in far more work experience-related activities.

The survey also revealed that degrees are no longer felt by teenagers to be the most important thing for getting a job. Professional training (55%), relevant work experience (41%), a strong CV (40%) and good careers advice in school (22%) are viewed as having more value than just a degree qualification (19%).

In fact, to achieve the future career of their dreams, a proactive 92% of committed teenagers have or would consider taking a part time job, undertake work experience (90%), transfer to a specialist college (67%) or start an apprenticeship (72%).

Anna Jackson, Head of Faculty at BMet says:

“Since launching our business professional and creative digital career colleges in 2016, we have seen students become more confident and better able to work towards securing their dream job.

“This is because they have had the opportunity to speak first hand to employers about what their chosen industry looks like and as a result understand the skills they will need in order to flourish.

“We hope this research inspires more businesses to come forward with their support as it is clear our young people do want to learn from them.”

“As firm believers in employer-led education, this research proves how much it means to young people to receive an education that includes time spent in the workplace and is too compelling to ignore.

“These early experiences help to excite and motivate young people about their future whilst helping them to develop the professional skills they will put to good use throughout their careers.

Ruth Gilbert, CEO of the Career Colleges Trust, says:

“It is clear from this research that today’s teenagers in both the West Midlands and the rest of the country, are desperate for good work experience opportunities and are very much aware of the benefit this will have on their future career.

“Schools are increasingly narrowing their curriculums, with more emphasis on academic subjects to meet Progress 8 measure and perform well in the league tables. This is having a negative effect on students who not only would benefit from a more vocational pathway but on ALL students who need experience of industry.

“Work experience is a key component of both the Government’s Careers Strategy and T-Levels – yet it is not featuring on the curriculum at many schools. Career Colleges are leading the way with sector specialist, employer-led pathways and schools should be supported to follow suit and create a much clearer line of sight from education to employment.

“Crucially, our research shows that young people themselves WANT the opportunity to develop employability skills and recognise the importance of doing this. Schools, employers and the Government simply must work together to support this.”


The research for Career Colleges was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 16/01/2018 and 23/01/2018 amongst a panel resulting in 1000 respondents UK teenagers aged 14-19.
All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

Background to Career Colleges:

• Career Colleges provide 14-19 year olds with high quality, employer-led education – ensuring they are
equipped with the skills needed to progress into work and/or further/higher education.

• Career Colleges provide 14-19 year olds with an exciting, career-focused alternative to school.

• Employer involvement is integral to the Career College concept – providing students with exposure to work
and the workplace.

• The UK is facing a skills gaps across a number of industries. CCs aim to fill these gaps. Key sectors are:
Hospitality, Healthcare, Construction, Digital/Creative, Professional Services

• Career Colleges are set up according to industry demand – addressing local skills gaps, ensuring the job
opportunities are available for the young people

• This is a new concept in education – combining high quality academic study with expert, vocational training
designed and delivered by employers/industry experts

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