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Giving youth the chance to showcase their talents

I know that the vast majority of young people want to work. They want to get their foot on the career ladder, and they want to get on in life. Often the biggest stumbling block to this is a lack of experience.

We all know the problem – you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. And the result? A huge pool of talent, enthusiasm and potential goes to waste. This isn’t only bad for the young person themselves, but for their family, their local community, and for the country as a whole. If we are to achieve our goal of being an aspiration nation then young people need to be given a chance. If Britain and its businesses are to compete in the global race then we need to tap into that pool of talent.

The answer? Give young people the opportunity to showcase their talents and show potential employers what they are capable of. And this is just what is happening in businesses up and down the country through our hugely extended work experience scheme.

Already, 100,000 have volunteered to take up the opportunity of a work experience placement, and I am grateful to the thousands of employers that have offered young people the chance to get their foot in the door, and gain some vital work skills that will help them get on in life.

The most important thing is we know it works. We commissioned research which found that for every 100 people who take part in our work experience placements, more than one third – 35 – were in work five months later. That is eight more than if they had not participated.

With a clear benefit like that, it amazes me that a small number of people continue to attack this scheme, apparently determined to stand in the way of jobseekers finding a job. The reality is that people are happy to take part because they know strengthening their CV will boost their chances of moving off benefits and getting into work – and they continue to receive their benefits while on their placement.

Work experience can be good for businesses too as young people bring with them new ideas and enthusiasm which can help your business to expand and grow.

One such business was a new graphic design and print company Kumo Ink in Scotland.

After Stefan,  the co-director met with his local jobcentre, he decided to get involved in our work experience programme. He was keen to be involved in giving young people the opportunity to gain some valuable work place skills, and saw that it was also an opportunity to see a potential recruit in action.

The Jobcentre matched him with 24 year old Leo Hewitt,  who had always wanted to work in graphic design but did not have any practical experience. Leo felt that his lack of experience would mean employers wouldn’t consider him, and was delighted to be given the chance to gain some work place skills.

Stefan says that the placement allowed him to watch Leo grow and develop, as well as giving him the chance to test and measure his skills and ability. Stephan was so impressed with Leo’s attitude and ability that he soon offered him a full time job as a trainee graphic designer.

He said that the experience was so positive that he has already recommended it to other businesses, and is looking at using the process again in the near future.

This just shows what a difference a work experience placement can make to a young person – to their confidence, employability and prospects. In addition to this, participants provide real value to the employer. For this reason, work experience has the backing of some of Britain’s leading employers.

I would like to appeal to other employers, who aren’t yet involved in the scheme, follow the example others are setting and get in touch with your local jobcentre to help give many more young people like Liam a chance.

By helping them to experience the world of work you would be hugely increasing their chances of moving into a job.

So thanks again to everyone who has taken part so far and I look forward to many more employers joining us in helping young people move into work.

Mark Hoban is Minister for Employment

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