Is Work Experience Compulsory in Year 10?

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It is only natural for students to wonder about their future and what it holds. For some, this means thinking about exams and further education. For others, especially those with friends and family in older years, this can manifest as thinking about jobs and work experience (and what it takes to achieve both). A lot of students often have confusion as to what work experience entails, and whether it is compulsory to have it. So, is work experience compulsory in Year 10?

To put it briefly, work experience is not compulsory in Year 10. In fact, it isn’t compulsory even in sixth form, though by then it is highly encouraged and ‘expected’. However, during Year 10 and Key Stage 4, it definitely is not statutory. While it isn’t mandatory, it can still prove beneficial for students.

While this may have given you a very brief overview of whether work experience is compulsory for students in Year 10 or not, it may be helpful to continue reading for a more nuanced understanding.

What is work experience?

Some students may not have come across this term before. In short, work experience is a short-term sample of what employment is like. It is usually arranged for older students in Key Stage 5.

Work experience is used to help students grow more accustomed to future careers and can provide a valuable experience to add to your future resumé. A lot of students take part in doing it, generally in Year 12 or 13. Having work experience allows students to stand out as better candidates in their desired fields.

It is a great way for students to have a learning opportunity in the workplace, while simultaneously not committing to a whole career. It is also a great way for students to learn more about the dynamics of the workplace, as it is typically very different from the average sixth form and secondary school atmosphere.

If students would like advice and guidance in regard to their work experience and careers, a lot of schools have a career coordinator or advisor to help out. Otherwise, students can go to their family or teachers for advice.

It is up to students to research and find their preferred work experience placement. This both teaches students responsibility and allows the student greater flexibility and control over what they’d like to try out. Even if you don’t know what career field you’d like to go into, it’s better to have some work experience testing out different fields rather than not having any.

Overall, work experience can be very beneficial not just for students, but for adults alike who are looking for career changes and would like a taster of a new career.

If you would like to read more about what work experience is and what it entails, check out this article from Twinkl.

Is work experience compulsory in Year 10?

In short, no! Work experience isn’t at all compulsory in Year 10, or in Key Stage 4. Students in these years already have a multitude of subjects and exams to learn for, which makes it hard to have the capacity to also do work experience.

However, by the age of 16, students are expected to have at least one experience of a workplace. This is stipulated by the Gatsby benchmarks, which are a set of career milestones for schools to provide for their pupils. These experiences don’t have to be a formal work experience placement, but can include:

  • Career-related volunteering
  • Social action
  • Work shadowing
  • A work visit

Once again, while students are expected to have one of these experiences by the age of 16, this isn’t mandatory. Typically, since these experiences are more on the informal side, some schools may not take action to guide students in Year 10 and 11 for these. Rather, the responsibility will fall on the student to organise these themselves (though you’ll still be able to go to teachers for advice and guidance).

Overall, while it is beneficial and expected for students in Year 10 to have a taster of the workplace, it isn’t statutory by any means, and is definitely not enforced. Work experiences such as these can provide a meaningful way of thinking for students and allow them to form connections with employers and expand networks.

To read more about the Gatsby benchmarks (especially pertaining to work experiences), check out this guide at the Good Career Guidance website.

Why is work experience useful?

There are many reasons why work experience can be beneficial. Firstly, work experience provides an invaluable glimpse into workplaces. For students who haven’t experienced that sort of atmosphere, it can be very helpful to have it as a first-hand experience.

Additionally, it can provide perspective for students who are having trouble figuring out what they want to do in the future. Having a taster session of a particular job can set straight any misconceptions or queries a student may have (as well as seeing whether that job is a good fit for them).

Work experiences can also teach new skills or build upon ones a student already has. Things like communication and responsibility are transferable to many other jobs, so even if a student doesn’t stick with the job they tried in their work experience, it can still prove valuable.

Work experience can be added to your CV. This is useful because when students submit their resumés when job-searching, experiences like these can help them stand out amidst other candidates (especially those fresh out of school).

However, work experience isn’t just useful for students. For those searching for a career change as adults, work experience is a great way to check out new jobs and different career paths.

To check out the benefits of work experience, this article from National Careers may be able to help! Another great article that lists benefits of work experience can be found here, from Think Student.

Where can you find work experience?

It actually isn’t that difficult! The easiest and quickest way to discover quality work experience placements is through the internet! With a quick search, you can find hundreds (if not thousands) of companies that want to offer students of legal working age the opportunity to experience work.

However, there are students who may be under the age of 16. In this case, you can talk to friends and family, who may be able to arrange for you to experience a week at their jobs or businesses. Additionally, your school may also have resources to arrange a place for you somewhere. As long as you can prove your presentability and attentiveness, it shouldn’t be difficult to find work experience!

Unfortunately, there is no set way to find work experience. It mostly requires some connections and luck on your part. Work experience can be as simple as finding work doing paper rounds, but it can be more beneficial finding work at a company in the long run.

The most common form of work experience is a week or two long, and involves shadowing a full-time employee. This is easy to organise, but you have to be free for the duration of your placement – it’s therefore typically done during the holidays or during school-sanctioned work experience weeks.

What are the other types of work experience?

Another form of work experience includes internships. These are longer (usually 2 or 3 months, though summer 6-week placements are also available) and a lot more hands-on. Internships are generally undertaken by school leavers, or students taking a gap year, or fresh graduates. They also aren’t really available for under-18s, unfortunately.

A lot of companies nowadays are starting to offer virtual work experience placements. This can be great for people with a busy schedule, or those who simply prefer it. While it isn’t an in-person workplace, it still counts as work experience and should be treated as such.

To read more about how to get work experience, check out this article from National Careers on the government website.

If you would like to find out more about different work experiences available, check out this article from Think Student to get around 50 fresh ideas!

Do you get paid for work experience?

This is an incredibly common question among students! Unfortunately, in most cases, no. Work experience is a temporary, short-term opportunity to test out the waters in a particular field. It is completely different to being an actual employee (in fact, many don’t consider work experience to be actual employment).

If you’re doing work experience through a family member, they may pay you a small sum for your hard work (like a reward).

If you are someone who values money, it may be beneficial to check out getting a part-time job alongside your work experience. You can also put the part-time job on your resumé (extra points!), all while making money. To check out different jobs you can get young, read this article from Think Students for jobs for 14-year-olds.

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