Work experience for your child

A student or young person does work experience with an employer to learn about a job or an industry. It’s a short term placement in the workplace. To help your child get the most from their placement, talk to them about using their skills and interests in a job.

How to find work experience

You can help  your son or daughter find a school work experience placement online at 'Connect to Success NI'.  To search opportunities with different employers in Northern Ireland, go to:

Searching for a work experience placement can be a valuable learning experience for your child and help build their confidence. There are different ways you can support your child if they're interested in work experience.

You can:

  • talk to them about subjects they like and dislike
  • use the Careers Service webpage tools to generate job ideas
  • encourage them to speak to their careers adviser
  • pass on any contacts who could help your child
  • encourage them to start their search for a placement early
  • make sure they try to arrange their own work experience
  • rehearse telephone calls they may need to make to an employer
  • proofread emails they send to employers
  • think about the location of placement and how they will get there

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

The Careers section has useful tools to help your child generate career ideas and research specific careers. 

If it's 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. 

To discuss work experience placements, your child’s school needs to contact:

Work experience placements are also available in the Civil Service. For further information, go to:

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. Work experience:

  • gives 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
  • gives insight into what the world of work is really like and employers' expectations
  • can increase their motivation to do well in school
  • puts them in contact with potential employers
  • can give them useful experience for their CV and provide referees
  • helps them appreciate the skills needed to succeed in a job

Skills in demand

There are job opportunities across all occupational areas but there is higher demand for jobs in 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 Careers Service Industry factsheets also include valuable local labour market information.

Career advisers

Careers advisers can help 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. To find your local careers office, go to:

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 allow 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 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  
  • the school is responsible for making sure 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 (not the school) arranged your child's placement, 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 any computer packages they may use
  • contact the school immediately if you feel your child is having problems during the work placements
  • if your child isn't 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 can:

  • discuss what they learned from the experience
  • ask if they've  their career plans
  • encourage them to write and thank the work experience provider

More useful links

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