Work experience still dominated by nepotism

Ben Richardson - News Reporter 27 April 2012

A successful career is still too dependent on parental connections and social networks, according to a new report. Work experience has such an impact on future career prospects that ‘employers have a particular obligation to ensure that placements are available fairly,’ it argues.

The report by the Education and Employers Taskforce charity and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) stressed the benefits of work experience for both school leavers and university applicants.

More than two thirds of teachers felt pupils having returned from work experience tried harder at school, while two thirds of pupils said the experience drove them to achieve their future career goals.

A survey of head teachers by the Taskforce and The Times Educational Supplement showed that 48% were planning to make changes to the way placements were arranged. The report goes on to discuss the extensive work experience links offered by high performing independent schools through their alumni bases. These offer students exposure to “professions often of great interest…and to which specific university courses act as a gateway,” it claims.

The report also quantifies subjects in which work experience is considered an “essential” requirement for university admission. Across 20 Russell Group universities, work experience was considered “essential” in 83% of cases for Veterinary Medicine and in 55% of cases for Dentistry. Only 22% of universities considered prior work experience essential for admission to a medical degree, although 66% considered it “desirable”.

The Education and Employers Taskforce was launched by schools secretary Ed Balls and business secretary Peter Mandelson in October 2009, aiming to foster stronger relationships between schools, colleges and local businesses.

Ben Richardson – News Reporter