Why Scrapping Work Experience isn't Helping Anyone

About a month ago, I was asked if I wanted to take on a young person for work experience. The first questions of doubt that came to mind were “what could I teach someone else?” “Do I even know what I’m doing?” …ultimately, “Am I good enough?”

After thinking further, I realised that it really wasn’t about me. In an educational climate where 14/15 year olds are not required to take part in work experience any more, the situation is dire. Work experience was scrapped in 2012, and since then, thousands of young people are missing out on vital life skills through their very first introduction into the professional working world. My Work Experience was actually in Nandos, and as you can imagine, was amazing for 15-year-old me. As well as free chicken for lunch (priorities, obviously), I managed money, practised customer service and worked under extreme pressure.

As soon as I turned sixteen I was asked back by my manager Danny, and this ended up being the job that supported me throughout college. Working alongside other staff, I was exposed to a variety of people, which taught me the importance of cultural exchange. Without realising it, I was picking up on key teamwork skills and outside of the workplace, I was able to provide for myself where my parent’s weren’t always able to. So, to hear that young people are not only not encouraged to take on work experience, but also have to find work experience themselves and take time out of half-term to actually do the placement is quite frankly, shocking. On top of this, if the young person is not part of a designated school/body/organisation, there is no one to report back to or help their understanding in retrospect, or more importantly, monitor and protect them. I cannot see any cons to work experience, and so I welcomed Quynh, an aspiring photographer, into an introduction to the freelance grind.

Within a week, Quynh went from never picking up a camera to taking the phenomenal pictures that frame this post. She grew before my eyes - asking questions, being inquisitive and most importantly, soaking in a real experience of a Creative's working life. Quynh now has invaluable and direct access into the world that she thought was out of reach just a week ago. I am so proud of her, and present Quynh as a testament to what time, care and professional experience can do for a young person. To put a finer point on it, see the evidence yourself through Quynh’s own words and imagery. All copyright to Quynh.