What price should we put on work experience?

In the news recently, it was reported that three-quarters of firms believed that a lack of work experience was the reason many young people were unprepared for work.

Despite these opinions, it was also revealed that half of the firms surveyed did not offer work placements themselves.

The British Chambers of Commerce survey of 3,000 firms found nine out of 10 thought school leavers were not ready for employment, and went on to call for universal work experience in all secondary schools.

The school curriculum in England states that: “Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life”.

However, it was revealed this week that the government’s decision to withdraw funding for work experience has led some schools either to drop it or to introduce a charge for parents.

So it seems that the price for work experience is ranging from £35 to £50 (to cover administration costs), but the cost of not doing it could be far higher if pupils are not sufficiently prepared for the world of work.

In a survey by Schools Improvement Net, readers were asked: “Would compulsory work experience for all school children be a good idea?” – and the results to date indicated that over 76% of respondents agreed.

This week, they also polled their readers with the question: “Is it reasonable to charge a student for participating in work experience?” The overwhelming result (to date) was “No, it should be free for all students”, with over 93% of respondent agreeing.

It seems then, that there is a divide between what the government wants and is prepared to fund, and also between the desire for schools to provide the experience against the reality of the cost.

This may only be the beginning of the changes to work experience in schools, but it is likely to have a greater impact over time.

If you would like to add you opinion to the Schools Improvement Net survey, you can see the latest results and take part via their website.

To share your thoughts on work experience or to tell us how your school manages the process, please use the comments section below.

Written by Teaching Resources Support on October 09, 2014 14:18


As far as I am aware, In Scotland all secondary pupils get the opportunity for at least a weeks work experience during their S3 or S4 year. This involves considerable preparation for the pupils on their skills, qualities and targets for improving their employability skills.

Posted: over 7 years by Angela Fraser

At this school we offer work experience in years 11 and 12. We split the of £35 between the school and the parents as we do. to have the funds to cover all costs. In the last 3 yrs we have only has 1 complaint as parents see the need for work exp.

Posted: over 7 years by Pauline hunter

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