Work experience that's more than just making the tea

2005

An employer "kite mark" has been launched to help graduates and students in the UK find work experience that is actually valuable and not just filing or making the tea.

The National Council for Work Experience has launched the quality mark, called Excellence in Work Experience, to act as a standard for employers and people looking for work experience to measure what is being offered.

It is intended not only to set a common standard for work experience, but to give employers direction on how to improve work experience opportunities and take a more strategic view of their relationship with higher education, said the NCWE.

It will be open to all UK employers who provide placements to students in higher education.

Employers will have to evaluate what they offer against rigorous criteria, including their commitment to work experience, how they recruit and place people, learning and assessment on the job and evaluation and monitoring.

There will be codes of practice within each area, such as, for instance, the need to draw up a job description, give a contract of employment, conform to health and safety regulations and so on.

There will also be more strategic guidance, for instance how to provide evidence that an organisation has helped students integrate their learning into longer term career plans.

Participating organisations will be evaluated by an NCWE adviser, it added.

Once accredited, the standard will last for three years, after which time the employer will have to reapply to ensure standards are maintained.

Liz Rhodes, director of the National Council for Work Experience, said: "The quality mark will act as an important indicator of those employers prepared to actively commit to the professional development of their students.

"And by adhering to this standard they will not just be benefiting students and graduates, but engendering the kind of worthwhile placement that can add value to the company, and broader economy," she added.

The costs of doing all this will depend on the size of the company, but the process will start at £2,500 to £3,000, which will include advisor time, assessment and accreditation and the three year duration of the standard.