Work Experience – the dilemma

Last week, we had a number of young people (very PC – please note!) in our office – all on work experience.

It is a bit of a problem for us and, if I’m honest we shy away from it. We do it usually as a ‘favour’ for friends and families of people we know. The problem arises on several levels.

Firstly, we are really busy – and we don’t ‘carry’ people. We don’t have staff sitting around with time on their hands. So ‘managing’ someone – who may be on their very first visit to an office – is quite challenging. Secondly, if we are going to do this, we want the young person to get something out of it – so they really need to be immersed in office life. Thirdly, the office can be an interesting place – more like a zoo sometimes – depending on the pressures of the day! And finally, our office doesn’t follow a pattern, our work can be quite varied – and we go out a lot.

The next issue is that, rightly, the School need some assurances that we aren’t going to kill the young person. That we are not going to subject them to too much ritualistic abuse (although most in the office have to tolerate that). So we have to fill forms in. We have to be checked out, the rulebook news to be read, understood and signed off in blood. These are all barriers – which say more about modern society than my office.

So that’s the dilemma, lots of forms, lots of tim and lots of restrictions. ALl to make sure we don’t reduce someone to tears.

I’m not sure what the answer is, as I think on the whole the young people do get something out of it – seeing how an office works, understanding behaviour and getting a feel for what life might be like after school. But the effort for us is significant – and, other than a little goodwill, there’s not much in it for us.

Perhaps we do need to think again about how the system could be made easier for the employer?

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