Pupils must receive three specific types of work-related learning, research reveals

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Three key and distinct activities have been identified to help deliver work-related learning and boost secondary students’ employability skills and aspirations.

New research from the Education and Employers charity has analysed the experiences and views of teachers involved in work-related learning in a bid to discover what is effective.

It finds that a variety of activities is crucial and that the needs of lower achieving and higher achieving pupils must be considered separately.

The study was conducting involving 390 UK secondary school staff who had direct experience of 16 different work-related and employer engagement activities.

The research concludes that, as a minimum, between the ages of 11 and 16, students should take part in at least one activity in each of three discrete areas. These are:

  • Career exploration and recruitment skills.
  • Skill development via enterprise activities.
  • Engagement with the working world.

The first area includes activities such as career talks, career fairs, workplace visits, mock interviews and job shadowing.

The second includes one-day enterprise projects or long-form enterprise competitions. The third includes work experience, community volunteering and mentoring.

Previous research from the Education and Employers charity has found that the more employer contacts students have during school, the more they are likely to earn later in life. The analysis showed that young people who took part in four or more activities with employers while at school earn an average of £23,100 a year between the ages of 19 and 24. Those who report having had no employer contact at school earn an average of £19,500 – £3,600 less. Each employer contact was found to be worth on average an extra £900 a year.

However, a study last year also found that the typical young British adult leaves schooling having engaged with employers on fewer than two occasions over their secondary education.

Dr Anthony Mann, director of policy and research at the Education and Employers charity, said: “This rare study crowdsources the informed views of teaching professionals and provides significant new evidence about how schools can optimise their engagement with employers.

“It enables us to group activities in order to act more strategically and make work-related activities more effective for young people. It is a significant step forward in giving teaching staff a toolkit for practice which is fully informed by evidence.”

  • The research paper – Towards an Employer Engagement Toolkit: British teachers’ perspectives on the comparative efficacy of work-related learning activities – can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2kj6Nr2
  • For more on the Education and Employers charity, visit www.educationandemployers.org


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