Help your child make the most of work experience

Reading time: About 3 mins

The benefits of work experience

A work placement gives your child a chance to: 

  • Gain an insight into the world of work
  • Use skills required in the workplace such as teamworking and good timekeeping
  • Develop self-awareness and confidence
  • Understand the links between their school subjects and the world of work
  • Meet new people who could help them in the future

Your child’s teachers will help them arrange a placement, but you can also help.

Here’s how.

1. Find out more about the world of work for young people 

Start by encouraging your child to think about what kind of placement they’d like to do. 

‘It can help if you have an up-to-date picture of what's happening in the world of work,’ says Careers Adviser Alison Phillips.

‘A young persons’ future career path often differs from their parents. By helping them with their career planning, parents can be better informed to help identify contacts and possible work experience opportunities.’

Some things to try:

  • Do the Strengths quiz with your child to explore what they’re good at. This can help them think about where they might want to do work experience
  • Have a look at the Industries information in My career options to find out what’s happening in the world of work
  • Encourage your child to do research using social media. Lots of companies now use social media to advertise opportunities

2. Use your contacts

Think about who you know and where they work. Is there anyone who could help?

‘Colleagues, family and friends can be an excellent source of work experience placements,’ says Alison. ‘These links could open up buddying or job shadowing opportunities.’

Janie Campbell, 44, from Glasgow, helped her 16-year-old daughter Kiera get a week’s work placement.

She says, ‘I work in a GP practice. I contacted one of my patients who is a manager of a nursery. I asked if they would consider Kiera for work experience.

‘But I wanted her to go through the same interview process as everyone else as I thought that she would benefit from the experience. I wanted the manager to be very honest if she wasn’t suitable.'  

3. Support them during their placement

Ask your child how their placement is going, and encourage them to try harder with tasks they enjoy. Suggest that they make time to chat with people who are working in the type of job they've enjoyed shadowing.

But what if your child isn't keen on the work placement that they have?

Alison says, ‘Your child can struggle if they’re not passionate about an opportunity. However, even if a work experience placement is not the exact job a young person wants, it is valuable and parents can encourage young people to see the benefits.’

‘For example, a placement can develop transferable and employability skills and build contacts and references for future applications.’