Work experience for your child

Work experience is the short term placement of a young person with an employer to allow them to find out more about the industry and the workplace. As a parent or guardian you will want your child to get the most out of their work experience as it helps to shape their thoughts of work.

Sourcing work experience

You can help  your son or daughter find a school work experience placement online at 'Connect to Success NI'.  There are opportunities from a range of employers and occupational areas across Northern Ireland at this link: 

Sourcing a placement can be daunting for you and your child. However, the process can also be a valuable learning experience for your child and help build their confidence. There are many ways for you to support your child to find a placement.

These include:

  • talking to them about subjects they like and dislike
  • using the Careers Service webpage tools to generate job ideas
  • encouraging them to speak to their careers adviser
  • passing on any contacts you may have who could help your child
  • encouraging them to start their search for a placement early
  • making sure they try to arrange their own work experience
  • rehearsing telephone calls they may need to make to an employer
  • proof reading emails they send to any employers
  • thinking about the location of placement and how they will get there

For tips on what to say and write when contacting employers visit:

The Careers section contains useful tools to help your child generate career ideas and research specific careers. Click on the link below to find out more.

If you are finding it difficult to find an employer, you can search the nibusinessinfo.co.uk website:

'Business in the Community Work Inspiration' and 'School Employer Connections' can help your child organise work experience. Further information on the placements they have on offer is available on their websites.

Contact with the following organisations about their placements should be made through your child’s school.

Work experience placements are also available in the Civil Service. For further information, click on the link below:

Benefits of work experience

Work experience is often the first contact your child will have with the world of work. It forms part of their careers education and allows them to observe and learn – not to do activities which require extensive training or experience.

Talking to your child about the benefits of work experience can help them to understand how useful it can be. Some of the benefits of work experience are it:

  • provides a valuable insight into the skills required for a particular job
  • is an opportunity to test out a job to see if your child really likes it
  • can broaden their knowledge of jobs they have never considered
  • will increase their awareness of their own skills and strengths  
  • helps them understand how the subjects they study in school link to certain jobs
  • provides an insight into what the world of work is really like and what employers expectations are
  • can increase their motivation to do well in school
  • is an opportunity to make contacts with potential employers
  • can give them experience which can be useful for their CV and provide referees
  • will help them appreciate the skills needed to succeed in the labour market

Skills in demand

Many parents and guardians are concerned about where the jobs of the future will be. In Northern Ireland, there are job opportunities across all occupational areas but there is higher demand in occupations to do with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

If your child’s strengths relate to STEM subjects, they may benefit from taking part in work experience linked to that area.

The following link will give more details and information on skills in demand:

The Careers Service Industry factsheets also include valuable local labour market information and can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

Career advisers

Professionally qualified careers advisers are also available to support your child plan their future career. They can speak to a careers adviser in school or visit an adviser in the local Careers Resource Centre, JobCentre or Jobs and Benefits Office.

You may also wish to talk to a careers adviser to be able to support your child. Click on the link below and select your local careers office:

The role of the employer

By taking part in work experience, the employer will gain the opportunity to help shape their future workforce and promote their company.  Work experience can also provide an opportunity for existing employees to develop their own supervisory skills.

Employers should aim to:

  • give your child an induction to help them understand the nature of the business
  • explain what will be expected of them during their work placement
  • explain health and safety requirements for the company
  • identify a supervisor/trainer to oversee your child’s work during the placement
  • give feedback to the student at the end of the placement
  • Providing work experience opportunities 

Documents

Taking part in a work placement at an employer’s premises has implications for you as a parent, the school, and of course your child. You may need to be aware of some of the following:

  • insurance should be in place to protect the employer and your child  
  • it is the responsibility of the school to make  sure that their students are fully covered by the employer’s Public Liability Policy  
  • you may have to sign documents from the school /employer for this cover to be extended to your child
  • you may be asked to fill in a parental consent form
  • if you are involved in getting a placement for your child (as opposed to the school), check if your child is protected on the placement

The school the pupil attends is responsible for overseeing the work experience placement.  The school should make sure that all of the necessary arrangements are in place before a pupil goes on placement.

During the placement

As a parent or guardian you will want to make sure that your son or daughter will get the most out of their work experience. The following tips will help you to support them:

  • make sure they arrive on time
  • as work days are longer than school days, make sure they have a good night’s sleep
  • talk to them on a daily basis about their experiences
  • remind them to keep a diary  of what they did on work experience
  • remind them to note down any computer packages they may use
  • contact the school immediately if you feel your child is experiencing problems during work experience placements
  • if your child not enjoying their placement, help them to stay positive by focusing on the new skills they are developing

After the placement

Once the placement has finished, it’s important for your child to think about what they have learned.  You may want to discuss the following with them:

  • what they learned from the experience
  • has it made them re-think any of their plans
  • writing to the work experience provider thanking them for the opportunity and experience gained

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