When the term work experience is mentioned, most employers will straight away cut to the image of a young college student taking on the role of office junior as part of their education in the ‘real world of work’. However, for the past few years, and indeed since the recession, the pool of talent looking to complete work experience placements has widened to include A-Level school leavers, graduates and those undertaking re-training into a new field of employment. With such a high level of talent available for free, employers should be looking at what a work experience placement could do for their business.

For those businesses that offer a specialist service, such as caring or rehabilitation services, the current graduate field offers some great opportunities. With a high number of graduates currently studying in this area, there is a demand for work placements as people attempt to make themselves more employable after finishing their degree. Physiotherapy is another study area currently very competitive and any type of placement offering this type of opportunity is highly sought after. With this in mind, look at current opportunities within your business and see if these skills could be utilised in some way. For the graduate, the experience is invaluable to their CV, whilst you are able to gain access to some specialist skills normally very costly for a small business. The potential areas that volunteer placement students can be found id vast however and students studying a range of other subjects such as marketing and design will relish opportunities to further their experience.

Getting hold of these students has also become easier, with Universities much more open to affiliations with local employers; they are keen to establish business links as it encourages participation on their courses. E-mailing or telephoning the placement office with a quick pitch about what position your company can offer is a great way to get the ball rolling. From this, they will usually look at the relevance of the work experience and then forward on the opportunity to students undertaking relevant courses.

Job Centres are a good way to get hold of interested volunteers and posting on the website can allow you access to a large number of people actively searching in the local area. With the economy recovering slowly, there is still a large number of people wanting to find work and many are now considering unpaid placements an attractive option to bolster their CV.

Firms looking for A-Level qualified candidates should look towards career counselling services offered by colleges and sixth forms. They have a thorough understanding of the capabilities of students as they work more closely with them at this stage of their educational career and also talk directly to them, highlighting strengths and areas of weakness. They are keen to help these school leavers enter the job market and so work experience is a good way to help them experience what type of employment is on offer.

What employers need to remember about these type of work experience candidates is that they are not looking to act as an office junior for weeks on end. Normally, these placements will last for a few weeks as many people can not afford to spend too much time unpaid due to other responsibilities they have (living costs, for example). Business owners should also ensure that the roles they are expecting people to undertake are worthwhile and benefit both the business and the volunteer. They are after all doing this to progress and so entrusting them with genuine responsibility is an important part of the process. Once the placement is completed, you should offer yourself as a referee, should the volunteer have performed well and also look to give feedback to any institutions involved in the process.

If you are a Peninsula client and would like help drafting a proposal for a work experience scheme, or would like any recruitment advice, call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our trained Consultants will be happy to help.