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24 April 2019

Bring back work experience to prepare the workforce of tomorrow

As schools return from their Easter break, FSB has called on the Government to consider the reintroduction of a new form of work experience that is available to all Key Stage 4 students.

The Government should recognise the roles that small businesses play in local communities and the indispensable role they can play in giving young people a taste of the skills they will need to succeed in the workplace.

In 2012, compulsory work experience for students across England at Key Stage 4 was axed, making it harder for students to get their first taste of working and for small firms to engage with schools and communities.

The principle of work experience is a crucial stage of learning for students, which is why it should be made available to all students in some form at schools.

Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “We need to prepare young people for the workplace while at the same time ensuring that we safeguard the future of the workforce across the country.

“Small firms want to be able to take on more young people for work experience, but they need to have the support in place to liaise with schools to ensure both parties can make the most of the experience.

“Since the changes were made in 2012, it has become increasingly difficult for small businesses and young people to arrange work experience.

“More than 40% of small firms already offer work experience either as part of the recruitment process or through their community outreach, but now it’s time that this is taken to the next level.

“Smaller firms are more likely to hire people from harder to reach backgrounds, which is why the reintroduction of work experience would be a valuable leg up for students looking to experience work and small firms looking to plug their recruitment gaps in the future.”

Head teachers and career leads must have the freedom to engage with smaller businesses and their communities perhaps via the use of career and company enterprise advisors to develop appropriate work experience.

This comes off the back of a major report, ‘Small Business, Big Heart’, released by FSB in February, which called for a one-year National Insurance holiday for small firms that employ people furthest from the labour market.

The report found that eight in ten (80%) small businesses are actively involved in their community.

FSB also called on the Government to reintroduce a form of the Percentage Threshold Scheme that was shelved in 2014 and enabled small businesses to reclaim a share of Statutory Sick Pay if their SSP expenditure exceeded a set percentage of their total National Insurance bill.