Why work experience is a win-win scenario for small businessesCat McCarthy
End of term and school holidays in Wyndham usually coincides with a plethora of emails and phone calls from year 11 and 12 students in Point Cook and Werribee (or their Mums…) to businesses small and large, asking if they could please have a Point Cook Plumber work experience placement for 1 day a week or for a 2 week block. The simplest thing a busy business owner can do is say ‘sorry, we don’t take work experience students’ or even ‘no, we are already full up’, fob them off and continue on with their workday.
But what if I told you work experience can be beneficial to not only the student you are assisting, but also for the business? Whilst its really easy just to say no (less admin! less time finding them things to do!) I implore you to consider the alternative and to say ‘yes’.
Firstly, for the young person. Remember when you were just starting out, and you just wanted someone to give you a go? To give you the experience that all employers say is a requirement for every job role you wanted to apply for?We’ve all been there, craving to get that necessary experience for our resumes. Work experience is a chance for young people to have a go, gain some knowledge and understanding in their industry of choice, and have something tangible to put on their resumes.
In the trade industry, completing work experience is like a ‘try before you buy’ approach to an Apprenticeship, without having to complete a 12 week pre-Apprenticeship in a field you may not actually enjoy working in. Work experience students get to learn new skills, including the basics of the trade and even more important transferable skills just as how to communicate with a team, time management skills and customer service.
It’s their opportunity to get valuable constructive feedback from their potential future Employers and Supervisors, and possibly even a foot in the door of the workplace they were able to get experience at (if they left a good impression).
I believe however that work experience placements, when managed correctly and valued with importance, can be extremely beneficial to the host business. Firstly, the most basic benefit is that it is a low-cost extra pair of hands. I say low cost because in Victoria you need to pay a minimum $5 per day to a work experience student (although we choose to pay 10x this much as we believe our work placement students tend to give it their all if they feel they are being appreciated).
Work experience placements are also a really good way to train your employees in leadership skills. At McCarthy Plumbing Group, we often pair our younger Plumbers and Apprentices with work experience students as it’s a great way for them to gain leadership and management skills they may not normally get the opportunity to get for a long time.
The most advantageous reason for taking on a workplace student, and what we feel is a win-win for both parties, is that it can be a recruiting strategy and a way of tapping into young talent. By investing in our future workforce, by giving them a ‘go’, we are often forming the foundations of a future apprenticeship. McCarthy Plumbing Group currently employ two apprentices and a part time Warehouse Assistant, with all three of these positions filled by previous work experience students. Work experience often provides a ‘trial period’ for both the employer and future employee, to see if they are a good fit for the company.
The best advice we can give as a work experience friendly workplace is really value the placement; make sure the student receives a suitable induction, both for OHS and for them to feel like this is an investment in time for both parties. We’ve even created a work experience checklist for our students in order for them to get the most out of their placement (encouraging them to ask questions, volunteer for jobs instead of waiting to be asked, stay off their phones and smile!). Finally, we choose to pay well above the recommended $5 per day (Our Director still asks me why we do this!). What you give is what you get, and we really believe our work experience students value their placement when they feel valued also.
Interested in hearing more about our talent acquisition and recruitment opportunities? Visit our website here or our social media pages.