Work experience

Introducing students to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. It can take the form of a short, or longer, placement with a placement provider (employer) where they will have the opportunity to observe and practice work tasks.       

But work placement arrangements are too often seen as over-bureaucratic and burdensome, putting off potential employers. We must tackle this and stop over-interpretation of the law. 

The effectiveness of the employer's risk management arrangements is what matters. Employers should already be managing the risks in their workplaces and are best placed to assess whether or not they need to do anything additional for a new young person joining them.

Schools and colleges, or those organising placements, should simply ask sensible questions, in proportion to the level of risk, to satisfy themselves that those arrangements are in place.

They should not be second-guessing employers' risk assessments or requiring additional paperwork. 

An appreciation of risk and how to deal with it can be one of the biggest benefits offered by a placement. We need young people (those under 18) to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work.

Judith Hackitt
Health and Safety Executive

Find out more about work experience.

See more general guidance on young people.

The Department for Education web pages provide wider guidance on work experience and education.

Updated 2022-07-01