The elements in the Work Based Learning portfolio in which we are engaged are:
Study Programmes/T-Level Industry Placements
Volunteering (when its principal aim is to increase employability)
It’s important to emphasise the learning part of this strategy and the essential integration of experience in the workplace with learning in the classroom or elsewhere.
Work-based Learning (WBL) is an educational strategy through which students get experiences in a real-life workplace where they can try out and apply academic and technical knowledge and skills and, by doing this, develop their employability. Work-based learning provides students with increased career awareness, the opportunities to explore different career options and career planning activities. It helps students acquire competencies such as positive work attitudes and other employability skills.
What Is Work Based Learning?
Work experience in school
Traditionally, work experience placements consisted of entire year groups of c.14 year olds being off timetable for a two week block at the same time in the academic year, during which they experienced a real working environment, sometimes - but by no means always - in the sector in which they were interested. Though sometimes very successful, it often wasn't: too many youngesters spent too much of their time photocopying or making coffee. Whilst accessing what should be the hugely important opportunity of experiencing the workplace in one's formative, teenage years is still a reality for some teenagers, unfortunately for many others it is not as, since 2012, it is no longer mandatory for secondary schools to arrange Work Experience. This has led to disparities in provision around the country and has led to a 'postcode lottery' of opportunities.
Employers are complaining that not enough young people are "work ready" and, so, there is constant and growing pressure on Government to reintroduce Work Experience for this age group. To counteract this to some degree, the 16-19 Study Programmes, which now form part of the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, were introduced in August 2013.
Study Programmes Placements
All post-16 students follow a study programme tailored to their prior attainment (i.e. by age 16) and to their career aspirations. Work Experience is a key component of these16 to 19 study programmes and all students are expected to undertake Work Experience or some form of work-related training as part of their study programme's ‘non-qualification activity’.
At the end of last year, the government launched a new set of “T-level” qualifications, a technical equivalent to A-Levels, aimed at establishing parity between academic and technical routes of a young person's development. A mandatory and key element of the T-Levels will be the student completing an industry work placement, on average 50 working days in length and achieving a minimum of 315 hours. It is going to have to be occupationally specific and focused on developing practical and technical skills. It also has to take place with an external employer on a site external to the student’s learning environment, and be adequately supervised and monitored by actual site visits.
The Traineeship programme is a government initiative developed to support into the world of work young people who have not achieved highly academically. A traineeship lasts from 6 weeks to 6 months. The employer is not obliged to pay the trainee, although travel and lunch costs are normally covered. Undertaking a Traineeship does not impact on a person's benefit entitlement.
To be eligible for a Traineeship, the learner must be: unemployed and have little work experience; motivated to work; aged 16-24; not yet have achieved a full Level 3 Qualification; and likely to be ready for employment or an Apprenticeship within six months of engaging in the Traineeship.
An internship is work experience offered by an employer for a fixed period of time. The placement can be anything from a week to a year, and three month internships over the traditional academic summer holiday are common, as interns are usually graduates or students studying for a degree. The placements give students an opportunity to experience the world of work, thereby enhancing their course, and are often related to their particular field of study.
Unlike Apprenticeships or Traineeships, internships are not a government initiative, so there are no strict criteria about what is offered, or when, or who is eligible. Interns are not bound to work for their employer at the end of their internship, so it is a great opportunity to test a range of occupations. In some of the most popular graduate employment fields, a significant proportion of graduate vacancies are filled by previous undergraduate interns, for example investment banking (71%); law (51%); media (49%); and finance (43%).
Volunteering can be defined as any activity that involves spending time doing something, unpaid, for other people, the environment or other causes, for their benefit rather than one's own. Central to this definition is the fact that volunteering must be a choice freely made by an individual and not a mandatory activity. People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons but, in the context of work experience, the focus is on the opportunity to develop new skills and/or build on existing experience and knowledge, to further someone's career aspirations, "enhance your cv" and improve employability.
Apprenticeships are vocational qualifications for which one studies alongside real-life work experience. Apprentices learn 'on-the-job' with an employer whilst attending college or learning with a training provider where they develop the theory to back up their work. Sometimes, training is delivered "in-house" by the employer rather than with an external provider, provided that the employer is qualified to do so.
An apprentice must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week. Therefore, apprentices have the same rights as other employees; for example, they receive a contract of employment and are paid (the nationally agreed apprentice wage as a minimum). Under the Apprenticeship Standards introduced in May 2017, all apprentices must receive a minimum of 20% "off the job" training within their working hours.
To qualify for an apprenticeship, learners must be 16 or over and not in full-time education. Theoretically there is no upper-age limit to undertaking an apprenticeship, but providers are only funded by the government to deliver courses to 16-24 year-olds.