Services for Young People Hertfordshire Services for Young People

Employer guide to work experience

Students participating in an automotive work experience placement.

In this section, employers can find information to help them to offer students a successful work experience placement.

Click the buttons below to find out more.

What is work experience?

Work experience is an unpaid placement with an employer, usually lasting one or two weeks. The young person carries out tasks in a similar way to an employee - the emphasis for the student is learning from the experience and developing skills and confidence. The placement usually takes place whilst students are still in education, in Years 10 to 13 (students aged between 14 and 18). Placements can also be offered to young people up to the age of 20 who are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET), whilst they are looking for future work.

There are many benefits to providing a placement, both to your organisation and the young person.

For the company:

  • The student provides help with real tasks – many young people are highly IT competent and capable of administration/office tasks, project work and under supervision, can assist with manual and practical activities
  • Your employees can build on their supervisory and leadership skills, whilst sharing their knowledge and expertise with young people
  • The placement provides a real insight into your business - you get to understand how young people view your business and learn from them if your marketing messages are well received and understood
  • Give back to your local community
  • Promote a positive profile of your business to your employees of tomorrow

For students:

  • Helps to build business-relevant skills
  • Enables creativity
  •  Helps them to understand the world of work and what employers expect of them
  • Gives students industry-relevant knowledge that may help shape their future
    career choices

Feedback from employers that have supported work experience tells us how rewarding it is to be involved in a young person’s development, improving their understanding about the world of work, developing skills, clarifying their career ideas and raising aspirations.

Types of work experience

There are various types of work experience you can get involved with through Services for Young People.

Block work experience
Usually for one week, placements are for young people in Years 10 or 11  (students aged 14, 15 or 16). Students in sixth form (aged 16, 17 or 18) also undertake block work experience, which is usually more focussed and in line with their career aspirations. A programme of dates throughout the academic year is promoted to employers and we are happy to discuss dates with you that fit in with your business needs.

Extended work experience
Usually one or two days a week over a term or academic year, where the student is released from school to work at your business. For an employer, this is an ongoing pair of hands that, over time, gets to know your business, develops their skills and can add real value.

Work experience for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

This follows a similar format as work experience for mainstream schools and can be for a one-week placement or a couple of days a week over an extended period of weeks.

A bespoke service is offered with more information about the student shared with the employer, to provide the right supervision. An interview is arranged before the work experience placement starts.

There are many benefits to providing a placement for young people with disabilities and/or learning difficulties, both to your organisation and the young person.

For the company:

  • Many students with additional needs make positive contributions to business - they may be eager to impress, dedicated, methodical, adaptable, determined, tenacious, enthusiastic and like to be part of a team
  • Students with additional needs give new perspective and bring new ideas to the business
  • Having a student with additional needs demystifies some of the preconceived ideas about special needs conditions.
  • Raising the profile of students with additional needs and offering positive and equal opportunities for all
  • Recruitment tool for Supported Internships, Inclusive Apprenticeships, weekend and part-time staff
  • Influencing and promoting commitment to employ disabled staff
  • Increasing motivation and job satisfaction for employees

For students:

  • Helps to build confidence and understanding of the world of work
  • Enables independence
  •  Helps them to gain interview skills and knowledge of different types of work for future career choices

Feedback from employers that have supported work experience for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have said:

"He was a real asset having him in our store, our staff learnt a lot. We had comments from customers about how knowledgeable he is."


To find out more, visit our Supported Employment page.

Getting started

Our dedicated members of staff work as the broker between the employer and schools. Our knowledge of building employer engagement through work experience can help you every step of the way.

We can:

  • Help you set up a job description by discussing tasks the students can get involved in
  • Talk through the calendar of dates when schools are undertaking work experience to fit your placement offer(s) around your business needs
  • Carry out the health and safety visit that supports the placement – this can benefit your business as a whole by highlighting any new health and safety information and guidance
  • Be your contact – prior to, during and after the placement to answer any questions and give advice
  • Help you come up with a timetable of activities that enable the young person to get exposure to various different areas within your organisation – although you may be the organiser/co-ordinator, the responsibility of looking after the student can be spread amongst colleagues
The health and safety visit

We carry out health and safety visits at employers’ premises to check the environment is safe for young people. Carried out by staff with an occupational safety and health qualification, accredited by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the visit lasts around 30 minutes and we find that most companies already have the necessary measures in place.

The visit takes account of the naivety of the student and is made up of three elements:

  • Documentation check of your health and safety policies, procedures and insurances
  • Checks to ensure the type of work the student can undertake is appropriate
  • Look at the working areas, including fire extinguishers, fire exits etc and the welfare facilities you have in place for employees

Companies are re-visited at interim periods depending on the risk band assigned at the visit:

Low risk - every five years
Medium risk - every three years
High risk - every year

Employers with fewer than five employees are not required to have a written health and safety policy and written risk assessments.

Prior to work experience

To help in preparation for your student placement, there are some things you can do in advance:

  • Before the placement starts, let your staff know that a student will be doing work experience and ask them for ideas of things the student could do
  • Identify members of staff who can supervise/support the student
  • Put a timetable together for the week of whom the student will be working with and when (include lunch breaks and breaks through the day)
  • Write a list of what the student will need on placement. Remember to include things like protective clothing, tools, equipment, computer login, security passes and somewhere to put their personal belongings
  • Inform reception there is a student coming and arrange for a visitor’s badge if required.

Approximately four to six weeks prior to the placement, the school will send you an employer agreement form to sign and return to them before the placement takes place. Approximately two to three weeks prior to the placement, the student should call to arrange a preplacement informal interview/chat.

Ideas for student work

As an employer, it can be difficult to know what to give a student to do whilst on work experience. If you prepare some tasks in advance, these ready-made activities take the stress out of any last minute planning. It is always positive for a student to be involved in varied tasks and to feel a sense of achievement at the end of the week.

Here are some activity ideas - you could include some or all of them during the placement.

Task 1 - Interview the staff
The student chooses members of staff to interview about their roles/how they got into the industry and what they enjoy about their jobs.

Task 2 - Let the student experience being an employee
Let the student observe customer service scenarios - on the phone or in person. Let them meet and greet visitors. Invite the student to meetings - encourage them to take notes and feed back their understanding/observations to staff.

Task 3 - A project
Set the student a project that gives them something to focus on and helps them understand how the company fits in with the wider world; and what the different parts of your business encompass. They could think up an advertising campaign and design online posters/flyers/leaflets detailing any product that you sell or create a new product for your business.

Task 4 - Social media
Most students are knowledgeable with social media – you can give them a task to look at how your company uses the internet to hit target audiences; and they can then identify what could be improved and other sites you might not have considered. This may well broaden your customer base as young people are usually aware of all the latest ways of promotion and communication.

Task 5 - Administration
Young people are increasingly IT literate.

Do you have any data entry the company has not had time to type up?
Could the student type up notes from a meeting?
Could they help put a spreadsheet together with information the team need?
Could they update contact sheets?
Is there some web research they can get involved in?

Task 6 - Practical support
If the work is practical, the student could undertake or prepare simple tasks with supervision including clearing work areas, tidying cupboards, taking a stock check and general manual support. Check with our members of staff about the tasks a student can help with practically as they really can be an extra pair of hands. Each student has different levels of ability, so it is useful to have a few ideas to adapt your timetable accordingly.

Example student work experience timetable

Employers can use the example timetable below to help plan the work experience placement in advance. This includes activity ideas for the student across a week.

Page two of the document is editable for your organisation.

Example work experience timetable

The pre-placement interview

The student should give you a call two to three weeks prior to the placement to arrange the pre-placement interview/chat. You could use this interview to find out what the student would like to do on their placement, explain what the tasks are likely to be and to reassure them. It is also good for the young person to experience a ‘mock interview’ scenario for when they go out into the real job market.

Sample questions

You could ask the student:

  • What their expectations are?
  • What they hope to learn?
  • What subjects they enjoy at school?
  • If they have any questions about the placement?

It is a good idea to look over the job description with them and ask if there is anything they are unsure about. Discuss start/finish times, dress code, breaks and any particular expectations you have of them. You can also let them know who their supervisor will be and introduce them to the young person if available.

First and final days of the placement

First day of the placement

The student may well feel nervous on their first day. To help them settle in as quickly as possible:

  • Introduce them to colleagues so they feel welcome
  • Show them where they will be working and include a health and safety induction identifying fire exits, meeting point, toilets and kitchen facilities
  • Explain the organisation and what it does so that the student understands what they are going to do and why
  • Run through their timetable and who they will be working with and discuss lunch and breaks
  • A teacher might call today or further into the week to arrange to come and meet the student and see how they are getting on and ask you how the student is doing
  •  At the end of the day, ask the student how they got on and alleviate any concerns they might have so that the next day the student can come into the workplace more self-assured

Final day of the placement

Arrange to see the student on their last day so they can feed back on their achievements.

You can also ask:

  • What they enjoyed/didn’t enjoy and what they feel they have learnt?
  • What they have been working on? They could do a short presentation on any
    project they have been involved in.

Please fill out our feedback form on your experience – we value and welcome your comments to make sure we are providing the best service that we can.

Common misconceptions

Our staff will bring the necessary paperwork with them at the health and safety visit. This will be completed with you and usually takes around 30 minutes.

It is time consuming offering work experience
There is some time needed for the health and safety visit and to set up your programme but once this is done, the ongoing time commitment doesn’t have to be onerous. Sharing the responsibility with work colleagues will alleviate the responsibility falling on one person.

Under 16s cannot do work experience in certain sectors
Health and safety visits are carried out and job roles are risk banded accordingly; these take account of the student’s naivety in the workplace. Many students work in sectors such as construction, catering and motor mechanics, although some restrictions do apply.

Employees must be DBS checked
Where the placement is for less than 15 days, a DBS check is not needed. We do ask, for extended placements which cover the academic year, that a DBS check is undertaken for the main supervisor of the student.

The company would need to get additional insurance to cover the student
The Association of British Insurers has confirmed they will cover work experience students as if they were employees, under the company’s existing Employers Liability Insurance. There is no additional insurance needed and there should not be an additional premium payable.

Useful websites

Health & Safety Executive
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. 

Hertfordshire LEP
Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is one of 39 LEPs across the country tasked by the Government to drive forward sustainable private sector growth and job creation.

Herts Growth Hub 

The Hertfordshire Growth Hub is a service for established businesses, helping them to find the highest quality locally-sourced support and expertise to help them achieve their business ambitions.


Inspiring the future
A free service across England which helps employers to engage with state secondary schools and colleges.


Institute of Occupational Safety & Health
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the world’s Chartered body for safety and health professionals.

STEMNET (the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network)
Operates across the UK to create links between employers and educators that tackle STEM skills shortages.


East Herts District Council provided the following feedback about a recent work experience placement:

“It has been a pleasure providing work experience for a young person here at East Herts… A work experience placement can help individuals develop transferable skills, understand how organisations work, build confidence, and confirm or decide on a young person’s chosen career path… easing young people into [the world of work] gradually is a fantastic way of helping to soften that transition.”


Interested in offering a work experience placement to a local young person?

Please register your interest in offering any type of work experience on our Employer Contact Form.