Work experience process
Last reviewed on 28 May 2019
There are a number of things that need to be done before, during and after any work experience placement – these are set out below.
When someone asks for work experience, ask them to complete the work experience application form (below). This will help you to understand what they’re looking for from work experience.
Considering an application
Read the Work Experience Application Form and decide whether you can offer a suitable placement, then let the person know as soon as possible. It’s important that all work experience applications are considered fairly and objectively and in line with our inclusion and diversity policy.
Before offering a placement, speak to the person to check that they’re comfortable with the type of activities they may get involved in. For school or college students, you must make sure that the placement is supported by the school/college and that they’re involved in these discussions. The school/college will have some procedures to follow before the student starts, including a risk assessment and checking our Employer Liability Insurance and Health and Safety Policy.
If you can’t accept the request, you need to tell the person why. Could you do something different instead - for example, giving a tour of the workplace? Although not typical of a work experience placement, it may give them some of the knowledge they’re looking for.
Once you’ve decided to offer a placement, think about the tasks the person will carry out and fill in the role profile template (below). Make sure that the tasks are reasonable, given their age and previous experience.
Give the role profile to the individual and, if they’re a student, to the school/college. The school/college will need to give information to parents/guardians and it’ll also help them to see if any reasonable adjustments are needed.
In business areas that carry out screening checks before new employees join, people over school leaving age who are looking for work experience will need to complete the same checks before they start their placement. If you’re not sure if checks are needed, speak to your manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Get in touch with the person to arrange the start date and times of their placement and send them a copy of the work experience agreement (below), which they’ll need to sign and return to you. Also send a copy of the work experience FAQs (below) – this answers some common questions people may have before joining us for work experience. And make sure you confirm the name and contact details of their supervisor, so they know who to ask for on their first day.
It’s important that you keep a record of the completed Work Experience Agreement and any other paperwork in a locked location.
Anyone joining your workplace, even for a short time, must understand the need for confidentiality. Share our data protection and confidentiality agreement (below) with them and talk about what this means in your workplace. For anyone over the age of 18, they must read and sign this agreement before the start of the placement. For those under 18, it’s not legally binding but you should talk them through the key points so they understand how important confidentiality is.
There may be some parts of your work or workplace that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the person to see – think about how to plan around these issues.
Before any work experience placement starts you must carry out a risk assessment – using the work experience risk assessment form (below) - and share any risks with the individual/school. If the placement’s arranged through a school, they’ll visit your workplace to ensure there are no health and safety risks.
If someone has a disability, you must talk to them about whether there are any reasonable adjustments that need to be made. If the placement’s arranged through a school/college, involve them in these discussions. Any adjustments agreed need to be in place for the first day of the placement – if they’re not, you should delay the placement until they’ve been made.
Preparing for the placement
Talk to your team about the work experience placement and ask someone to act as a buddy. Make sure they know what work the person will get involved in and share the Role Profile with them.
If needed, make sure you arrange access to IT systems and/or a temporary security pass, so things run smoothly on day one. It’s also a good idea to map out an activity plan for the individual, so everyone knows what they’re doing and when.
Be sure to welcome the person and give them an induction on day one. Remember, the world of work may be unfamiliar to them so a good induction should help them settle in. You might find the work experience induction checklist (below) useful to make sure that you’ve covered the key topics - feel free to add other things to this list.
It’s particularly important that they get the same health and safety information and training as any other new employee. We owe the same duty of care to them as to an employee. If they have an accident in the workplace during the placement, you must follow the usual accident reporting procedures.
Ongoing support and supervision
Make sure there’s ongoing support and supervision for them. How much supervision they’ll need will usually depend on their age, but if they’re under school leaving age they should be fully supported and supervised at all times. Their buddy should also be available to offer support and answer any questions they might have.
At the end of the placement, meet with them to talk about how the placement’s gone. Give them some feedback on their performance. Before giving feedback, think about the following:
- What did the person do particularly well?
- What are their strengths and how have they added value to the team?
- What could they have done differently?
- What did they learn that would be useful for their future career?
It is also a good opportunity to get some feedback about the placement – ask them:
- What aspects of the placement did they enjoy?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go as well as expected?
- How do they feel about Co-op following their placement?
- Is there anything we need to do differently for future placements
To recognise their success, send them a thank you letter and a certificate of recognition (below). You can add some key skills and experience that they gained during the placement to the certificate.
You’ll need to record the work experience placement through our intranet form. Go to the intranet and search for ‘work experience form’.
This helps us to report on work experience activity so we can understand and show how we’re supporting our social goals.