Why work experience matters

MFL_Access Aspiration
6th March 2020

Social mobility in London is not sorted. Over the last few weeks, multiple new reports have shone a light on the fragmented social mobility landscape we see in our capital.

Among other findings, our One City, Two Worlds report found that one in four young people from low-income backgrounds believe that ‘people like me’ do not succeed in life. This may be part of the reason why young people in London are more likely to be NEET than similarly qualified young people in England (Youth Jobs Gap, Impetus PEF, 2020)

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

To see more diversity in the workforce, London businesses must recruit more diversely. To build young people’s aspirations and access, we must provide them with vital links to employers that match their interests and values.

Our Access Aspiration programme aims to change the social mobility narrative in London by doing exactly this.

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To date, more than 6,630 students have signed up to the programme and experienced over 17,500 employer encounters through activities both in school and at London businesses.

Last week was February half term, which means it was all systems go for our Access Aspiration team.

We provided work experience placements to young people all over London at top businesses across a range of sectors. They include the MET police service, Michelin star Italian restaurant The River Cafe, leading PR firm Halpern, independent investment company Alvarium, and international law firm Winston and Strawn, among many others.

Most of our work experience placements are five days long, allowing young people to gain a deep insight into the sector and business. It encourages them to fully immerse themselves in working life, experiencing what it’s like to travel at peak times and do the 9-5 on a daily basis.

The feedback from our students was immensely positive.

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Here’s what some of them had to say…

“My work experience at Conde Nast was the best thing ever. It was interesting to find out about how people got to where they are. If I didn’t have this opportunity, I would have to look for work experience myself which would have taken much longer and not been as good. Not many schools encourage it. I wouldn’t have found this otherwise – thank you.”

Student on work experience at global media company, Conde Nast

“It was sensational and amazing. Before I went to the business insight day, I didn’t know anything about this area. But when I went, I thought there’s never been a job more suited to me, so I jumped at the chance to have work experience here. The whole experience was phenomenal and gifted us with so many skills. Thank you for the experience.”

Student on work experience at the government’s Home Office

“I really love what your organisation is doing for the young generation. Our industry needs more diversity in so many ways. The change will come with the next generation. Meeting with these kids and helping them to see the opportunity is helping to create the change we need. It is also inspiring to see how engaged these kids are!”

Tyler E. Goodwin, Founder and CEO of Seaforth Land, on providing work experience and volunteering as an industry speaker

Access Aspiration wouldn’t be a success without the support of our partners – thank you to all the businesses who offered work experience placements, insight days, or volunteered in our schools this month.

If you are a London business who’d like to be involved, get in touch with our Senior Corporate Account Manger Andrea Willson via awillson@mayorsfundforlondon.org.uk.