The pandemic and the lockdowns severely affected the younger generation, and some of the effects are still being endured as the world recovers to the new normal. Youths have missed crucial opportunities and important milestones like examinations. The restrictions that came with the pandemic also inhibited social interaction and strained the natural course of the education of young people. In 2010, Robert Peston launched Speakers For Schools, a charity initiative that aims to ensure that every student achieves adequate work experience regardless of the happenings in society.
However, students have been presented with a lifeline, virtual work experience, to get them participating actively in the professional realm of their respective industries while safeguarding themselves through strict adherence to the restrictions based on the pandemic. It’s not difficult to see that several traditional placements have become replaced by these virtual work experience programmes.
Besides, the current model for virtual delivery in several industries and locations has helped businesses to revamp their early outreach endeavours. That way, they can deliver more placements and considerably enhance their geographical reach. Since remote working is among other adjustments adopted as the norm of business operations, companies are now observing the effectiveness of the online work experience compared to traditional setups.
How UK Companies are Adopting Virtual Work Experience
Recent data was released by Speakers for Schools on the relationship between the pandemic and the recent job placements that were offered since its inception. Based on the report, there are about 5,890 placements in the UK job market. The proportion of these opportunities presented as virtual work experience is estimated to be about 71% and distributed across several geolocations. There are at least 13,624 placement opportunities in England and at least 70% of the job placements in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (over 6,000 opportunities in each area) are virtual work experience opportunities.
The construction industry has majorly contributed to these trends with an increase of 1,834 placements over the past year. Additionally, 1,335 job placements in the healthcare sector increased during this same period. Since the hospitals and health centres could always make do with more workers during the pandemic, school leavers in related fields have developed interests in getting work experience remotely or in person.
There are several benefits that school leavers can gain from working with popular brands. For one, the reputation of these big companies can improve the look of their CVs and make the applicant attractive to employers in related sectors. With Spotify, there was a 4,168% increase in offered placement opportunities in London. Other companies like Cisco and Severn Trent Water also considerably increased their placements on offer during the pandemic.
What is the Future for Virtual Work Experience?
For several years now, work experience has been a key part of school leavers’ journey to professionalism in their respective sectors. Young people can gain a lot through work experience, such as enhanced confidence and improved skill sets since the opportunities will provide insights into their career development. Besides, work experience also prepares school leavers for the working world, teaches them workplace etiquette and improves their CV.
However, young people typically face challenges like location boundaries when opting for traditional work experience. Besides, some students may not be able to afford travel and accommodation costs in their search for work experience.
That’s why virtual work experience is so crucial in times like this when the world is just opening up to travel-related activities. Northern Irish students are some examples of the beneficiaries of the virtual work experience programme since their location used to put them at a disadvantage from getting placements at popular companies based outside Ireland.
Now, they can gain online work experience from corporations located anywhere in the UK. Although students’ education has been affected by the pandemic, the provision of remote work experience has helped them adjust to the ‘new normal’ effectively.
Research shows that 28% of companies conduct their compliance training through online training, and most companies are now implementing online learning. This shows that school leavers can deploy technology to take the progressive steps in their potential career without much regard to lockdown limitations.