Although many schools throughout Australia have run excellent work experience programs in partnership with local business and industry, many more have been left to piece together ad hoc programs, disproportionate in what they deliver.
There have been difficulties
Businesses often baulk at taking on Work Experience students because of the red tape of insurance or the lack of time or staff to mentor a young person.
Teachers often find organising work experience burdensome and difficult, and students find securing a work placement stressful. Others have no idea where to begin, and in rural or remote areas the choices can be limited.
The scramble for work placement often sees it landing on reluctant family members, (and some students are better placed for contacts than others), the school office or library, or a workplace ill prepared to provide meaningful workplace experience.
It’s no wonder some students find their placement boring, irrelevant and a waste of time. A week of menial tasks is hardly conducive to engagement, meaningful reflection and an enthusiastic eye towards the future.
Currently the greatest barrier to Work Experience is the Covid-19 crisis
With social distancing in place and many businesses closed for the foreseeable future, students no longer have the opportunity to complete what is for some states a compulsory subject. Without wanting to trumpet the prophesies of doom, finding meaningful work experience in the time of recovery will become even more difficult for students.
So why persist?
A well-run secondary school work experience program still has the power to give young Australians a valuable understanding of the workplace, work relationships and the workforce. It’s a great way of gaining insight into a particular job or industry. It can also give them something tangible to aspire to and the impetus to pursue the path towards their aspirations. All of this is important when making those difficult subject choices.
The future of Australian business and industry rests on the resource of raw talent and enthusiasm that can be found in our schools. It would be foolish to throw away the opportunity make these connections – especially now.
We understand that the existing concept of Work Experience has its difficulties, especially in the context of these times. At Work-Ready we have been considering a way to address these barriers and give every student the opportunity to engage in the subject in a positive and reflective way.
My Work Experience Workbook
At the best of times it can be difficult to find suitable work placement; but even without physical Work Experience, students can gain valuable insight into being active, informed and productive workplace participants; and they can do it in the workplace of their choice!
My Work Experience workbook takes students through a virtual work experience. In their virtual work experience students will
- Research their ideal job
- Find their perfect workplace
- Create a workplace avatar
- Apply for their placement
- Learn to dress appropriately for the job
- Explore some of the workplace roles
- Ask the right of questions
- Understand workplace etiquette, behaviours and challenges
- Learn about their rights and responsibilities
- Understand the skills and attitudes they will need in their workplace
- Reflect on the experience in a personal work experience report
- Follow up and get actively involved in planning their job or career pathway
No matter where they are in Australia, or which school they attend, My Work Experience workbook will give students the opportunity to experience the workplace in a way that will help prepare them for the future. Better still it can be completed in the classroom or at home.
We’ve made Work Experience more accessible!
Last year we reflected on the whether or not the concept of Work Experience as it currently exists is outdated. The subject itself is still valuable if we are to connect students with the possibilities before them. We don’t need to replace it. We just need to make it better, remove the barriers; make it more accessible. My Work Experience workbook encourages research, interview, engagement and reflection. It is at least a part of the solution for careers classrooms, educators, students and their families.
We must demand more of our policy makers and there’s still work to be done in creating productive partnerships and getting industry to engage with secondary schools, their communities and the young Australians they will employ in the future.
Until then, checkout My Work Experience workbook and seriously consider purchasing a copy for each of your students. Get them onto their virtual Work Experience workplace.
If you have any questions about My Work Experience workbook, don’t hesitate to get in touch.