Survey claims work experience scheme could do better

Peter Kitching
Peter Kitching

THE county’s annual work experience programme for 14 to 16-year-olds could be improved, according to Business Link Kent.

A survey – the first of its kind in Kent carried out by Business Link Kent – found that 86 per cent of students and 83 per cent of employers were either very or fairly satisfied with the programme.

However, employers voiced a number of concerns including the amount of red tape involved with organising placements, the importance of pre-placement interviews so that employer and student can meet face-to-face, and problems surrounding the implementation of health and safety in the workplace.

Poor attitude from students was cited as a major problem (37 per cent of employers) as was lack of basic employment skills such as timekeeping (28 per cent) and lack of social skills (27 per cent).

The survey also indicated that where a student or family organised a placement directly there was much greater motivation for the student to make the work placement succeed.

Peter Kitching, Business Link Kent's project manager for education and business, said: "These findings come at a time when the Government is placing ever greater emphasis on the need for students to be exposed to the world of work and to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

"This is a useful insight into the needs of all those involved in work experience. We want all parties to gain as much benefit as possible.

"More than three-quarters of employers take part because it is seen as contributing to the community. However, we cannot take that for granted and there is a real need to address employers’ concerns.

"They highlighted the need for better matching of students to placement requirements, more flexibility in the timing of placements so they run through the year and simplified health and safety assessment procedures."

But Mr Kitching's remarks have angered Kevin Bush, the director of the Education Business Partnership in Canterbury and Swale.

He said: "It is quite topical that Mr Kitching makes his remarks just weeks after Business Link Kent relinquished the contract from the Learning Skills Council, thus creating turmoil within the Education Business Partnerships, those that arrange the majority of placements.

"Rest assured that work experience within Kent will get better. With the creation of Kent Works, from within Kent County Council, I am positive that a new era of positive links between business and education will be forged to provide a far greater degree of co-operation.

"Our students will be better prepared, motivated and aware of the world of work, something that Business Link Kent didn't achieve."

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