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High levels of unemployment across the country has led to a myriad of organisations offering employment support services. The sector has become increasingly competitive in terms of contracts and services delivered to help get people back into work.

But how many organisations practice what they preach, and prioritise their own workforce development? A recent ERSA forum saw Reed in Partnership bring a work experience student to the meeting. This was unusual, but it shouldn’t have been. Organisations working in the sector should be leading from the front in investing in the next generation, through offering work experience and apprenticeships.

Offering placements not only allows young people to find out about career opportunities in the employment support sector, but also provides a range of benefits to the employer, including, to:

  • Help meet contracted targets by placing clients internally
  • Increase the diversity of your workforce, leading to greater productivity
  • Develop a talent pipeline for your organisation
  • Develop current employees by supporting them to become mentors
  • Reduce recruitment costs and assess candidate suitability.

When it comes to delivering employment support programmes we all know that quality is important. This should extend to programmes delivered in house too. The apprenticeship levy will inevitably increase the amount of apprentices employed in the sector, which is positive, but only if the opportunities delivered are high quality.

To meet its apprenticeship target of three million by 2020, the government could work smarter to increase the opportunities available, such as making work placements mandatory for organisations with government contracts. Ephraim, 17, was the student in attendance at ERSA’s Media and Public Affairs Forum. He said: “Attending the forum with Alex, my supervisor, has reiterated to me the importance of making connections and building strong relationships, something which transcends the world of work and also resonates in my personal life.” Read the full case study here.

Fair Train is a national charity which champions the benefits of all types of high quality work experience, including traineeships and apprenticeships. It works with a range of organisations across the country to support them to deliver high quality work experience and employability programmes, through the national Work Experience Quality Standard accreditation.

The accreditation acts as both a kitemark for recognising best practice and a framework for developing provision. Reed in Partnership is accredited with the Work Experience Quality Standard at silver level.
Fair Train is encouraging all organisations in the employment support sector to showcase their provision as part of this year’s Work Experience Week, which takes place from 10th-14th October. The campaign aims to demonstrate the difference a high quality placement can make to an individual’s prospects and life.  

For more information visit www.fairtrain.org

Jessica Rexworthy, Head of Learning and Skills, Fair Train