Work experience: it’s not so hard to give

Employers want graduates with experience, but graduates can’t get that experience without a foot in the door. It’s the old chicken and egg scenario.

I’ve talked with many employers across a range of workplace development services, and they tell me they want:

  • educated people that understand how to behave in a workplace
  • workers that can adapt and fit into their workplaces without having to teach them the basics of appropriate professional behavior 
  • to know that young people can apply knowledge gained through learning into real work contexts.

The good news is employers can actually be a part of the solution. Simply by offering opportunities for workplace exposure while young people are still studying, we can all future-proof the quality of our workforce. 

Here’s four ways employers can be part of the solution:  

  1. Offer work-experience placements to high school and TAFE students for blocks of time throughout the year.
  2. Take on a school-based trainee – either a year 11 or 12 student. This allows secondary students to work one or two days a week for an employer while they complete a Certificate II qualification as part of their Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).  
  3. Engage university students in a Work Integrated Learning placement. Some universities now offer a unit as part of a student’s degree to spend 100 to 150 hours to work on a project in a real work setting.
  4. Employ an apprentice or trainee. This allows you to employ a junior who will learn an occupation while attaining a qualification. This is a great way to build skills and pass on knowledge from your more experienced employees as a succession plan.    

The benefit to employers of offering work exposure opportunities to young people include:  

  • a resource that can work on a project that you just haven’t had time to get to
  • the opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes and views on how a problem could be solved 
  • a development opportunity for your staff/team to supervise a young person in the workplace.

Offering opportunities for the next generation to gain experience is easy and you can get started today.

Lena Constantine is the Manager of a range of workforce development services at CCIWA.