Research Shows Work Experience Improves Employability

The Open University

  • A research report by the Open University confirms that standard work experience placements have a positive impact on the employability of 14-15 year olds.
  • The evaluation of work placements arranged by Worktree, conducted by the Open University through aKnowledge Exchange Voucher in Summer 2012, involved 296 students aged 14-15 from two schools in Milton Keynes, Stantonbury Campus and Oakgrove. The aim was to evaluate the change in ratings of students’ employability skills before and after undertaking work placements.
  • The findings provide evidence that work experience placements for 14-15 year old students appear to assist with the development of employability skills, are enjoyed by students and are valued by students.
  • The students reported a 13% increase in their own employability skills from before to after the placement.
  • The students began with a generally positive view of their skills and this was enhanced by the placement. In addition, there was a striking increase in the percentage of students who rated their employability skills as very good, with large increases for time-keeping and appearance.
  • The students showed a high level of satisfaction with the placements. Before the placement more than three-quarters were looking forward to the placement, thought they would enjoy it and thought they would learn a lot from the placement. After the placement there were slight increases in these figures with 86% reporting that they had enjoyed the placement and 87% had learnt a lot from it. In addition, nearly three-quarters reported that they would like to go on another placement. Thus schools can be confident than the majority of their students will enjoy work placements and feel that these are of benefit to skill development.
  • The group of students who took part in the current study appeared to have reasonably clear ideas about their career, and this did not change as a result of the placement, although many of the students (64%) reported that the placement had helped with career choice.
  • Another finding suggests that students rate their work placements high, in terms of enjoyment and learning, when they experience good relations with colleagues and an appropriate level of independence in their work. So students who enjoy and learn a lot from their placements tend to be those who employers rate as good team workers.
  • “I am pleased with the conclusion that work placements are enjoyed and valued by students,” said Dr. Tracey Jones, Headteacher of Lord Grey School and Worktree Trustee. “It is important that schools and placement providers regularly assess the impact of these placements, so everyone involved knows they are providing value for money and helping young people progress into the world of work”.
  • For two-page Summary report, download from this page. To download the full report, click here.
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