Need any help? Call us on

+44 (0) 1270 258200

Work Experience

The transition from school to work is an important, and sometimes difficult, period in anyone’s life. Our companies can help to prepare youngsters for this transition by offering work experience placements to students from local schools and colleges.

Of the companies responding to CBA’s last survey, some 73% said they offered work experience. This is far higher than the national average which, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, stands at 27% of companies offering work experience. This is already a great performance by CBA member companies, but I would like us to do more.

Successful work experience placements do not just benefit the students concerned, they also offer companies the opportunity to ‘Grow their Own’ by helping to develop the skills of someone that may be a prospective employee.

This section of the CBA website highlights resources available to companies interested in providing new placements. It also provides sources of information to help companies already involved in work experience to review and improve their programmes. We have also included resources relating to the new apprenticeship system.

I hope you are able to join CBA’s sector-wide campaign to deliver effective and meaningful work experience to young people.


Dr Stephen Cartlidge
Former CBA Chairman

Dr Stephen Cartlidge

Work experience is a critical part of the employability agenda. It is important in helping to form attitudes that young people will take into their working lives. It also offers a first opportunity to understand the links between what they learn at school and the competencies needed for the world of work.

A short period of work experience can therefore have a disproportionate influence on a young person’s subsequent employability.

To improve employability, work experience has to be positive. It requires planning and thought. A week operating the photocopier, filing or making tea will not inspire anyone. Companies have therefore to ensure that work experience is meaningful.

A work experience placement is often the first – and sometimes only – exposure to the workplace young people have before they make decisions on future study or to leave school to seek work.

It is the responsibility of businesses offering work experience to leave a positive impression. Placements must be high quality, offer scope for experience of real and varied work, as well as helping the participants to learn more about themselves and the competencies they need to develop.

The ladder to employment

The ladder to employment

Candidates – Young people seeking work experience placements will either be secondary school students coming towards the end of their formal education or young people who have left school and are currently seeking employment. Offering placements to this second group of youngsters requires a slightly different approach and is outlined in Work experience for Job Seekers in this feature.

Timing – Work experience should form part of an overall study programme and last one or two weeks. Scheduling a placement so it offers the most benefit to the student and the company should be discussed with the school concerned.

Health & Safety – Students on work experience are employees for health and safety purposes and companies owe a duty of care to the student. Existing risk assessments may already cover risks relating to work experience students, but will need to be undertaken if they do not.Employer’s Liability Insurance will almost certainly cover young people, but companies should check that this is the case.

CRB checks – Schools, colleges and companies are often concerned about whether a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check needs to be carried out on staff working with young people on work experience. Companies should consider CRB checks for someone with specific responsibility for supervising a student, particularly if the student is under 16, is vulnerable (for example, has special educational needs), or where the supervisor will spend a substantial amount of time alone with the student. Companies should not be asked to conduct CRB checks on personnel that are simply working alongside the student.

Are students paid? – Students are not paid because the work experience is part of a their education. Companies should make no payment for work performed, whether to the students, the school, or the local authority. However, employers may make a contribution towards additional expenses incurred if they wish.

Hours of work – The number of hours worked and the pattern of work is normally agreed between the company, school, parents and students. It is recommended that students should not work more than a standard eight-hour day or be asked to work more than five days in any consecutive seven-day period.


This information is taken from the current guidance on work experience issued by the Department for Education. However, the Government is currently considering changes to the law as it impacts on schools, employers and young people in relation to work experience.

The Flip Chart Image

The links below provide a series of resources covering the benefits and practicalities of work experience programmes. To read more, just click on the title of each document.

An overview of the benefits of employing young people and helping to prepare them for the world of work produced by UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

An introduction to study programmes, traineeships, and internships from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. This publication also includes a series of electronic links to additional sources of information.

Practical guide to work experience with ideas for structuring a programme (see links below) and a series of company case studies.

This link contains guidance on what meaningful work experience looks like and the activities that could form part of study programmes for 16-19 year olds.

This link offers practical guide for employers on how to set up and run a high quality and successful work experience programmes.

This link offers a tool kit to help employers to design and deliver work experience. It includes programme templates, examples of innovative projects, and case studies.

Apprentices can be new or current employees, aged 16 years or over. Their training combines work with studying for a work-based qualification – ranging from GCSEs or equivalent up to degree level. Apprenticeships last from one to four years, depending on the qualification involved. Grants plus funding for training are available to employers (in England and Wales) for taking on apprentices. Separate provisions apply in Scotland (see below).

Apprentices must be paid at least the minimum wage; they must work with experienced staff and learn job-specific skills; and must study for a work-based qualification during their working week at a college or training organisation The National Apprenticeship Service oversees all apprenticeship training and will confirm if there’s a relevant apprenticeships’ framework and you can register your interest in wishing to employ an apprentice with them.

Identify a relevant training organisation dealing with apprenticeships. Training agencies will handle your apprentice’s training, qualification and assessment. They will also advertise your apprenticeship position for you.

Using a training agency means you are not the apprentice’s employer and can therefore stop employing the apprentice more easily if you need to. In this event, the training agency will find another placement for the apprentice. Training Agencies are paid a fee by the company for which the apprentice works. This is usually the minimum wage plus a management fee.

Grants of £1,500 are available to companies with less than 50 employees in respect of apprentices aged between 16-24 years. Companies can claim support for up to five apprentices. Funding is also available to cover the training costs involved in an apprentice’s qualification, but it is more common for the training organisation providing the training to receive this funding.

Companies must sign an apprenticeship agreement with the apprentice. This outlines the scope and content of the apprenticeship. It will include: how long the apprenticeship is for; the training that will be provided; working conditions; and the qualifications the apprentice is working towards.


Apprentices must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage – click the title to go to the official calculator for the Minimum Wage. They usually work for at least 30 paid hours and must work for more than 16 hours each week. Apprentices must be paid for time spent training or studying for their qualification at work, college or the training agency. Apprentices must be offered the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles, including paid holidays, sick pay, and any other benefits you offer.