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Councillors want Kent schools to do more to encourage work experience

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Schools are not doing enough to promote work experience in Kent, claim councillors.

Elected representatives at Kent County Council believe more should be done to encourage young people to take their first step in their career.

This comes with a plea for schools to offer work place placements for teenagers despite it no longer being compulsory.

Schools in Kent should be doing more to promote work experience, says a councillor
Schools in Kent should be doing more to promote work experience, says a councillor

Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Dara Farrell, told his colleagues at the growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee meeting about his experiences at school.

The 25-year-old said: "I think it is incredible worrying to hear there are schools across the county that are being hostile to work experience.

"While at school I wasn't particularly viewed as an academic student and therefore I was sent on a day's work experience to try various trades because I wasn't 'fit' for university.

"I think we need to do some work around the narrative around that because these careers are more valuable than some university degrees."

As the youngest councillor at KCC, Cllr Farrell shared what it was like for him at school more than eight years ago.

He said: "I had no citizenship lessons ever and careers advice was included in home economics in between bread making and sex education.

"Careers guidance just involved asking what we wanted to do when we were older.

"I have a suspicion that it's not got much better since then and that worries me greatly."

"I think it is incredible worrying to hear there are schools across the county that are being hostile to work experience" - Cllr Dara Farrell

Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership skills committee, Paul Winter, spoke about his work with business guilds, the federation of small business and the government's The Careers Enterprise Company.

The UK managing director of Wire Belt Company added: "We are looking to launch apprenticeship graduations to try and take away some of the stigma of people not a degree at university but rather than an apprenticeship qualification.

"That we hope will happen during the course of this year."

KCC's The Education People, has taken over the skills and employability service from the local authority.

To inform young people in Kent, The Education People has created a post 16 prospectus 'KentChoices4U'.

The company also organises 'Made in Kent' events where young people can test their interviewing skills with an employer.

Schools are offered a minimum of four hours apprenticeship or participation support to reduce the amount of young people who are Not in Education, Employment and Training (NEET).

The local authority's business is also working with The Careers Enterprise Company, which was set up by the government to help link up businesses and schools.

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