With 55% of young people in the UK not feeling in control of their future careers I personally believe businesses are not doing enough to provide work experience for young people.
Work experience not only gives a young person a sense of direction, but it benefits business by unlocking the potential of a young person that they would not have known existed. It gives young people more confidence and trust in business.
I recently challenged my own preconceptions about business during my work experience at the CBI. The saying don’t judge a book by its cover is a phrase that can be used for my time there. When studying A level Politics, the CBI came up a lot in the syllabus and I had a pre-judged view of the CBI as an elitist organisation.
I was slightly apprehensive and nervous before coming as I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was fated to spending my time doing nothing but the menial and mundane tasks that some of my friends experienced during their work experience.
This was one of my first experiences of being in a business environment but, once I started, I knew I had no reason to be nervous: no two days have been the same, I have been given work and tasks on subjects that I have a keen interest for – things like finding arguments about whether the UK should stay in the EU and making a presentation about inequality. The week was a great insight and opportunity for me and I think more young people need to go out and get experience in business.
I would also urge businesses to not offer work experience half-heartedly and offer a genuine experience of work. What is the point in offering work experience for young people where all they get is practice in making tea, coffee, photocopying or filing? Businesses should show young people what their business is about, what they would do if they were to work there and even get them to help on tasks that they may find interesting.
We should prevent more young people having the same initial worries of what big organisations are like, the way I did, and I believe the best way to change this is in fact to welcome young people into your organisations — especially at a time were 53% of the public believe that business do not work in their best interest.
It is essential, now more than ever, for young people to have more trust in business. Few young people will see how businesses operate on a day to day basis and see their day to day workings. Allowing them to see business first hand will hopefully change any preconceived judgments and improve trust.
Through the Social Mobility Foundation, the CBI has provided work experience for bright young individuals to help them fulfil their potential. Find out more by visiting www.socialmobility.org.uk