From education to employment

British Airways Launch Work Experience Placements for 2024

As British Airways launches their work experience placements for 2024 this week, FE News hears from Melissa Richardson MBE, British Airways’ Senior Emerging Talent Manager. Mel explains why work experience is such a great opportunity for students and highlights the importance of inspiring future talent in all industries, not just aviation. She finishes with five top tips for educators when helping students look for work experience.  

Work Experience has become one of the most influential learning experiences for young people. A work experience opportunity, whether that is a traditional placement, an insight day, charity volunteering or a school trip to an organisation, can be the first step on the career ladder for many students. 

I’m passionate that work experience at British Airways should be a safe and inspiring place for students to explore different career paths and try something new. It’s a fantastic way to raise aspirations of young people who are yearning for a different and fulfilling career. As well as inspiring the next generation, it’s about making students more employable. They get to exercise transferable skills in a working environment and grow their confidence , and that to me is the most rewarding part of mentoring work experience students.

Any experience of work can make students more employable – and it doesn’t need to be in the industry that students want to go into eventually. Giving them exposure to role models, transferable skills and team working can only enhance their understanding of successfully securing their first job, as well as building confidence in their own abilities.

Since 2009, we have welcomed more than 3,500 students on a work experience placement at British Airways, and more than 500 students on a one-day experience placement. That’s not counting all the students who have completed workshops with us or visited on school trips!

We are also proud to say that 1 in 5 of our apprentices completed a work experience placement with us, showing the power of on-the-job learning and how it can increase confidence in young people.

My Top Tips for Teachers and Careers Advisors:

  1. Encourage your students to consider work experience opportunities that are not just directly related to an industry they are considering working in. It will give them a wider breadth of opportunity and the chance to test out their transferable skills.
  2. Help students map out all types of work experience to consider. It doesn’t have to be at a large corporation, it could be volunteering for a charity. They’ll have the same outcome, whilst making positive change in their community.
  3. If the work experience opportunity has a recruitment process to it, ensure your student receives feedback. This is invaluable when they go for their first interview. If there isn’t a recruitment process, see if the host would be willing to do a mock interview with your student to give them that exposure and experience.
  4. Once a work experience opportunity is completed, encourage students to write up about their experience whilst it’s fresh in their mind. What tasks did they complete, what did they enjoy, or not enjoy, what skills did they use, what did they learn? This will help with job applications and future interviews.
  5. After their work experience placement, encourage students to stay in touch with their hosts. It’s a good way to be alerted of any upcoming job openings they may be able to apply for.

Our work experience programme opens for applications on 24th April 2024, with many opportunities available for students to apply for between September and December.  Students can apply directly via the BA careers website.  Students can also upskill further by registering on our dedicated student platform Speedbird-Z , where they can complete learning modules speak to British Airways colleagues via an online chat.

By Melissa Richardson MBE, Senior Emerging Talent Manager at British Airways

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