Work Experience: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th July 2021.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the early careers survey by Prospects, Work experience during a crisis, published in May; and what plans they have to offer incentives to businesses to employ work experience students.

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

We are aware that because of the global COVID-19 pandemic 2021 graduates have had increased periods of online learning, resulting in fewer opportunities to gain work experience, which are experiences that traditionally help students to develop employability skills.

We have worked closely with the Quality Assurance Agency, professional bodies and the Office for Students (OfS) to ensure that students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow them to make progress in their lives and careers. We also welcome the innovative ways that universities have developed to ensure that students still receive valuable experience (for example, through simulations and virtual practice).

We recognise the importance of real-life work experience to complement training, and a number of our skills policies link skills training to jobs. Apprenticeships are jobs with training, and we are currently offering employers £3,000 as an incentive to take on new apprentices. New T Levels are a high-quality equivalent to A levels and include an industry placement with an employer. We are currently supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships, which is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. We are offering £1,000 incentive payments for employers offering traineeship work placements.

To provide additional support, we have developed the ‘Graduate employment and skills guide’, which was published on 10 May on the OfS’s website: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-outcomes-and-employability/graduate-employment-and-skills-guide/apply-for-jobs/. We have also worked with Universities UK to develop a Sector Statement of Support, which was published on 10 May on their website. The statement outlines what HE providers and the government are doing to support graduates, and it encourages graduates to take advantage of the support and resources available.

We have also engaged with higher education providers to produce a collection of graduate employability case-studies. Published on the provider-facing pages of the OfS website, these case-studies showcase the breadth of innovative work and range of new measures that university and college careers services have introduced to support final-year students and recent graduates as they move from university to graduate life.

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