Provide high quality work experience and volunteering opportunities that will give young people the insight and skills they need to work in your industry.

Employers tell us that they often look for candidates with experience, even for relatively junior or entry level roles. This can lead to vicious ‘no experience, no job’ cycle for young people who struggle to find the opportunities they need. 

On a more positive note, work experience is one of the most popular ways for employers to engage with young people. CIPD research found that the majority of those that offer work experience placements (85 per cent) use these as a recruitment channel and often offer employment opportunities to young people afterwards. There are also other additional benefits to offering opportunities such as helping businesses to engage with the local community, which can also lead to increased brand loyalty and profile. The quality of opportunities on offer is also important, so that the young person can experience and develop the skills you require, whilst also gaining a true sense of the workplace. 

As well as offering traditional ‘work experience’ placement, which normally only last for short period (two-weeks) and are often for younger school or college aged students (although older people can still benefit), there are other ways that employers can provide opportunities for young people to gain crucial experience. This includes internships, which tend to last for longer and are usually for graduates or undergraduates (who should be paid). Internships often provide a solid opportunity for a young person to develop their skills and provide a route for recruitment into a permanent position.

Volunteering is also an excellent way for young people to gain experience and vital skills such as team work, communication and leadership. An increasing number of employers are starting to recognise the value of youth social action initiatives and are either setting up or supporting projects in their local community that encourage young people to volunteer. 

Read Making Work Experience Work, Top Tips for Employers and our Work Experience Placements that Work guide to find out how you can implement high quality work experience placements. For internships read Internships that work and to find out about examples of organisations supporting volunteering initiatives read Youth social action and transitions into work: what role for employers?


Do you or your team offer work experience opportunities? If not, then volunteering to take one on, even if it’s just once a year, should be your first course of action. If you don’t already have established links with schools in your area then you may need to be proactive and reach out to local education providers – avoid recruiting by ‘who you know’ alone.

Where possible, encourage colleagues and line managers throughout the business to provide opportunities for young people to gain experience. You could also raise it in discussions with clients or those in your supply chain to find out what opportunities they are providing for young people. 

Your organisation

Provide high quality opportunities for young people to give them a taste of the working world. There are a number of ways this can be done, including work experience placements, Traineeships (a Government led initiative), as well as offering internships and supporting volunteering programmes.

For those particularly keen to support youth volunteering then you can join Step Up to Serve, a national campaign, lead by HRH The Prince of Wales, which aims to double the number of young people participating in social action by 2020. The CIPD is one of the members of the Business Pioneers Group and businesses are being encouraged to pledge their support. Find out more.