From Monday 29 April to Friday 3 May, David, a Year 10 student from Bartholomew School, worked with OxLEP Skills as part of a work experience placement, a valuable opportunity for young people to experience the world of work and for businesses to engage with education.
Work experience is a period of time where students (usually aged 14– 16) from different schools begin working for around a week, so that they can understand what the world of work is like. This gives students a key opportunity to experience what work is really like, whilst giving employers and companies new skills and opinions that would have otherwise been missing if the students didn’t arrive. I began my work experience at OxLEP on Monday 29th April and I learned many new skills, met new people, got to travel, experience new things and find out which parts of work I enjoy.
I was briefly introduced to the team on Monday and then told what my job (as Skills Communication Team Assistant) would be. This included using the organisation’s social media, helping with editing spreadsheets, going to meetings and events, and other tasks asked of me. I went to meetings catching up with events that happened, as well as a meeting about apprenticeships and engagement with a health and social care project, where I had to talk about different ways to handle a problem the person was having.
On Tuesday I headed into work and used social media to learn more about the company and gain better understanding of the vital role that it plays in events such as the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards and getting more companies interested in work experience and apprenticeships.
We then visited the Williams F1 Conference Centre, as they will be hosting the 2020 Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards. We were given a tour of the Centre, where we were shown the original cars, trophies and helmets of F1 legends, and I took photos to help advertise the Awards on different social media. We had to discuss prices, equipment, times, availability and a series of other topics around arranging an event.
We left to go to Grove Business Park once we were finished. We set up a surgery for businesses to visit us and ask questions around work experience and apprenticeships. During this time, I continued to research the company further and began uploading photos onto social media, so people could see what we had been doing and interact with us there.
The next day, I had to go to more meetings, such as the Skills team meeting, where we discussed what had been happening throughout the past weeks and how we could advance with our plans. I had to talk and explain what we had done on Wednesday in the Williams F1 meeting and how this was going to progress. I explained my points and talked about where the situation was headed.
Once that meeting was finished, I went to another meeting where I listened to the Skills team talking about how to get schools to interact with businesses in different ways, such as human libraries, trips and careers talks, to get them more involved with work experience and apprenticeships. I checked on my tasks after and began work once again on what was assigned to me.
Later on that day, a teacher arrived to check up on how I was doing and make sure I was fine, as well as telling me how others thought I was doing and ask how I was feeling about the place.
I also got to meet the CEO of the organisation and we had a talk on the wide range of opportunities that there are in Oxfordshire alone and how incredibly important and fascinating they are. It was amazing to see how much he knew about Oxfordshire and it was obvious he was a very intellectual person as he could explain where different places were and describe in detail what they were doing for the community and the economy as a whole.
Thursday morning was the same: checking on my tasks and continuing my work on social media. At 11am I left to go to another pop-up meeting, but this time at ACE training, which offers apprenticeships for construction, but is also a non-profit organisation. We were given a friendly welcome and shown the area where we could discuss and talk with representatives of businesses.
I later began work on a Powtoon for work experience tips, which was frustrating and time-consuming, but I managed to finish it and post it on the OxLEP Skills Facebook page. We then headed off to visit someone else who was doing work experience to ask questions and find out how they were feeling about it, so that we could write an article about them. We were shown around, kindly welcomed and we then asked a couple of questions on how they felt about work experience and apprenticeships. After this discussion, we left and finished the day.
On the last day I arrived and carried out my usual tasks, such as using social media to interact with sponsors of different events, partner companies and other teams within OxLEP. Once that was finished, we left to go to Oxford Business Park to schedule a pop-up meeting there, as there are around a hundred companies there, with over a thousand employees. We talked about the wide range of companies there, as well as how under-appreciated apprenticeships are, due to the common stereotype that they are for non-academic people, when they are an alternative learning opportunity on the same level as a degree and can help students learn in a more practical way, which is more effective for certain students.
When we arrived back, I talked to someone on what their job was and ended up incredibly impressed when I found out how big her role is, how well she is doing and how well planned everything is.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed work experience. The team were extremely welcoming and friendly towards me, I wasn’t treated like a child but instead a responsible young adult and I learned a wide range of skills, such as: leadership, organisation, initiative, resilience and mainly communication. I managed to bring my own skills to the organisation with social media skills and brought the perspective of a younger person to a place which focuses on working with young people. I found out what aspects of work I enjoy and was involved in new interactions I wouldn’t have thought would be in Oxfordshire, if not for work experience.
If you’re an employer interested in offering a work experience placement to help a young person discover the world of work, please contact OxLEP Skills on firstname.lastname@example.org.