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The Joy of Twitter

In February 2012 we began dipping our toes into Twitter and wrote a blog  – “To Tweet or Not to Tweet”.

At the time we weren’t sure how our Twitter account was going to be used but eight months on we have nearly 1200 followers and 1800 Tweets.  It’s been an interesting  journey and this is what we’ve discovered on the way:

Twitter is

               You meet all sorts of people on Twitter 

  • a great way to find up to the minute information eg newly published reports, research and events
  • a window giving an insight into your customers – for example in our case students’ views of work experience
  • a great leveller – enabling you to communicate with all sorts of people
  • a good way to keep in touch with what is going on in your local community
  • a means of supporting your local community by tweeting about news, events, businesses etc  The local business community does a lot for our students so it’s nice to be able to give a little something back.
  • a platform to raise awareness about who you are and what you do

So if you’ve ever wondered why our Tweets are a bit of an eclectic mix, now you know.  We use Twitter for lots of things.


There is a lot of serendipity in Twitter.

Just this week a Tweet popped up alerting me to the fact that the sky dive record attempt from the edge of space had finally started.  Not crucial information and nothing to do with work experience, the community or local businesses.  But it gave me the chance to watch 15 minutes of fascinating live TV.

So to quote Forrest Gump, part of the joy of Twitter is that “you never know what you’re gonna get”.

And finally, Twitter is doable.  It’s short and sweet. A waffle-free zone.  Cue end of post 🙂


The Lasting Value of Work Experience

Until recently schools were required by law to provide work-related learning for their students.  Many of them fulfilled that  requirement by means of work experience.

The Government is in the process of removing that statutory duty, but at the same time is emphasising the importance of schools providing work experience for over 16’s and under achievers.  With the present rates of youth unemployment the whole issue of employability and work experience are now at the top of many agendas.

In Enfield we have found that nearly all of the schools are continuing to provide work experience for their students.  We also know that many schools in Enfield were providing work experience long before it became a statutory duty. So work experience is valued as a way of helping students make more informed career choices, learn workplace skills and develop soft skills and generally make personal development.

Some may ask “can’t they do this at their Saturday jobs”?  Sadly as the Daily Telegraph reported, even Saturday jobs have declined so that avenue has also been closed off for many young people today.

There have also been some notable references to the role of work experience in the careers of some high achievers recently.  Nick Grimshaw, Radio 1’s new breakfast show host, said that he did ‘lots of work experience wherever he could’ to achieve his goal.  Olympic Gold Medal winner Charlotte Dujardin asked for 10 days work experience with Carl Hester – one of the country’s top trainers – and never left.

So the value of work experience has stood the test of time, and has taken on even greater  importance for this generation against the backdrop of today’s economic landscape.

Extended Work Experience – What is it?

We’ve noticed a trend lately for more schools asking for extended work experience for their students.  We thought it might be helpful ifextended work experience we explained what extended work experience is and how employers can be involved.

As you probaly know, regular work experience is 2 weeks long and aims to give young people first hand experience of life in the workplace to help them prepare for the transition from education to work.

Extended work experience is usually 1 or 2 days a week over an extended period (12 weeks or more) and can serve a number of different purposes:

  • As part of a vocational course – ie for a BTEC in Health and Social Care students combine 1 day a week on a care sector work placement with their studies on other days
  • As part of a programme to help students who are at risk of dropping out of school.  A programme combining school with work experience for one or more days a week often helps to motivate the young person and help to keep them in education
  • To help students with special needs build up their confidence in a different setting from school or home, and hopefully develop some employability skills along the way.  They (or the employer) might not be able to cope with a 2 week work placement, but half or one day a week over an extended period of time can help them build up their confidence as they learn to integrate.  We have hosted many of these students over the years and we can vouch for the fact that it is also a great learning experience for the staff of the host company.

In all of these situations tutors and teachers will keep in touch with the employer to monitor how the placement is going.  With  special needs students who require a lot of support, a teaching assistant will actually accompany them while they are in the workplace.

As always, with all of these placements

  • students don’t get paid as it’s part of their education
  •  you can interview the students beforehand to see whether they are suitable
  • if the placement isn’t working out for any reason you aren’t obliged to continue with it

If you’d be interested in offering extended work experience for one of these groups of students perhaps just on a trial basis for one week or so please let us know – email or call 020 8443 4252.

10 Ways to Improve Your Employability

What employability skills have you got?  How could you prove to a potential employer that you have those skills?  What can you do to improve your employability?   This online guide from Price Waterhouse Coopers is designed to help in all those areas.10 Ways to Improve Your Employability

It is in the form of a PDF guide with an interactive online employability test that you can print out at the end (you can’t save your results to your computer).  It is really useful because it doesn’t talk about employability skills in vague terms but gives examples of actions that demonstrate those skills.  So when discussing communication skills for example, one of the questions is ‘can you think of a time when you’ve actively listened to the opinions of others’.

This kind of reflection can help you compile evidence for your CV or to prepare for an interview.  It will not only help you to identify your strengths, but also any gaps in your skills and what actions you can take to improve.  Some of it is geared to their own interns but it is still a useful resource.

The Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Employability Guide is here:
10 Ways to Improve Your Employability

Price Waterhouse Coopers

Work Experience and Social Mobility

The UK has a poor record on social mobility – worse than many other western countriesImage

Work experience has been identified in a number of prominent initiatives as a key way of improving social mobility.

Very often people are willing to offer work experience to someone they know, but then they “pull up the ladder” and are reluctant to offer the placement to other students.

Having said that, we understand that its easier to host a student that you know.  Also having done that, many employers see how valuable it can be to a young person and that encourages them to open up the opportunity to other students, so it can be a good way of starting.

These are some of the projects identifying work experience as a key to social mobility and trying to level the playing field:

The Prime project – signed up to by City firms

The Pegasus Access Project

Alan Milburn’s Report on Fair Access to the Professions

Nick Clegg promotes new Business Compact

Opening Doors – Breaking Barriers

Work Experience influences who gets into Russell Group Universities

If you would like to offer a work placement please apply here

What do teachers think of work experience?

The present Government has been consulting about its proposal to remove the statutory duty for schools to provide work related learning for students (which is often delivered through work experience).  This is part of the response by the Association of Teachers and Learners:

“The current economic circumstances, the extreme levels of youth unemployment, plus policies such as those which drastically increase the financial burden of higher education, all make for a pretty tricky context to grow up in. Government should not be adding to this by cutting off more support for young people’s development and in turn trimming down their prospects. This is a heady cocktail government is offering which appears irresponsible, unfair and destructive. For today’s teenagers the costs and risks associated with making the wrong decisions are bigger than ever.

We believe that the Wolf Report was short-sighted to say that because young people no longer enter permanent, full-time employment at the age of 16, they do not need work experience at key stage 4. Transferable workplace skills, behaviours and attitudes can and should be built up over time and can aid decision-making (even at a basic level such as a preference for working outside or in an ‘office job’) – not just on careers but subjects and courses post-16.

Work-related learning, especially work experience, can reinvigorate pupils’ interest in education and give them a sense of purpose. It would seem risky to delay such potential reengagement with learning.”

The full response by ATL can be downloaded here.


What’s happening with school work experience?

For years now students have gone out on 2 weeks work experience when they were about 15.


The present government withdrew funding for this work experience last year and commissioned a review into the whole area of vocational learning.  The outcome was The Wolf Report.

Amongst other things this report has recommended that students go out on work experience when they are over 16.  The reason being that one of the main aims of work experience is to help prepare the young person for the transition from education to work.  In the present climate very few young people have the opportunity to leave school at 16 and start work and there are plans to raise the school leaving age.

So we are presently in limbo.  The Government is aiming to remove the statutory duty to provide work related learning (which doesn’t have to be work experience by the way) and has already withdrawn the funding that supported it  Schools  are free to carry on sending younger students out on work placements, but are strongly encouraged to provide work experience for students over 16 and for under-achievers.

Teachers tells us that work experience is really helpful at that earlier age because it increases the students’ motivation.  Further benefits are outlined in the ATL submission at the end of this blog.  We will have to wait and see what schools want and do our best to deliver it.   One thing that will remain unchanged is the fact that we are totally dependent on the goodwill of  the kind business people who provide the placements.

So to end we would like to give credit and say a big thank you to the many small local businesses who help so many young people year in, year out.  They are the backbone of our service and make a great contribution to the local community.

ATL’s (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) submission to the Government outlining the benefits of work related learning at KS4