From education to employment

New research reveals salary boost from work experience as campaign launches to make opportunities mandatory

·Campaign launches today to gather expertise and support from policymakers, educators and leading employers on how to roll out mandatory placements nationally

·Research commissioned by Speakers for Schools reveals young people can increase chances of achieving higher wages in future jobs

·Research also reveals that undertaking multiple work experiences can reduce the chances for becoming NEET

Social mobility charity Speakers for Schools is calling on the Government to make work experience mandatory for all state-educated students in England as new research reveals those who get the chance to experience the world of work are more likely to achieve higher wages in future jobs.

The charity has just launched a national campaign urging the Government to make good quality work experience a legal requirement in state schools and colleges by making the Gatsby Benchmarks more robust. Currently, Gatsby Benchmarks only provide a framework for educators and state that every student should have at least two workplace experiences outside of a part-time job by the age of 18*.

In a YouGov survey** commissioned by Speakers for Schools, 2,000 18–30-year-olds were surveyed to recall work experiences in school and college. The results revealed that for each additional type of work experience in secondary school, respondents in full-time work reported a 3.4% higher average wage compared to those who did not participate. For example, for each work experience that a young graduate might have undertaken at school, they report an average additional wage boost of £1,088 per year in their late 20s (based on the sample average salary of £32k). 

Furthermore, attending work experience reduces the odds of young people becoming Not in Education, Employment, or Training(NEET) from 11% to 7% after controlling for socio-economic factors such as age, gender, highest level of qualification and social grade.

Andrew Law, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Speakers for Schools, comments:

Accessing quality work experience has been a prevalent issue for decades and it is time to change. We think work experience is a fundamental right for students of all backgrounds, not just those attending prestigious schools or lucky enough to have parental connections. Young people should be able to learn about multiple types of jobs across different sectors before leaving school. It is hugely important for building aspiration, essential skills and helping determine future careers, but also for employers who regularly cite skills and knowledge gaps in entry-level candidates.

 “Currently the Gatsby Benchmarks do not go far enough to ensure young people can experience the world of work, nor are state-funded institutions given the resource and support needed to meet this expectation. Our campaign will set out to change this, ensuring all state-educated young people have the same employment opportunities as their privately educated peers, which could prove hugely important for social mobility.”

Work experience helps young people with the development of essential skills, the skills employers continuously reported the shortage of and value when it comes to school to work transition. One third of young people who recalled attending work experience at school reported improvement in communication and problem-solving skills. This rises to 45% for work experience between the ages of 16 and 18.

Work experience also improves confidence and self-belief. Young people who reported work experience at school age believed their confidence and self-belief was improved (31%). This is higher for older age group (55%).

Since 2020, Speakers for Schools has offered over 200,000 employer engagement opportunities such as virtual and in-person work experience, discovery workshops and insight days from a range of sectors, including media, construction, finance, video gaming, law and more. However, the charity has the capacity and resource to deliver many more but is limiting supply due to the lack of take-up by schools.

Part of Speakers for Schools’ campaign will include looking at how educators can be better supported in organising high-quality and meaningful work experience, regardless of a young person’s networks or location. The charity will draw upon industry expertise to create collective input from the public and private sectors, pooling efforts together to support the scaling up required.

Speakers for Schools currently has almost 1,000 employers in its network, including Google, PwC and the NHS, through to SMEs and start-ups. For more information or to register your interest in the campaign, please visit: 

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