From work experience to an Apprenticeship

It’s Work Experience Week this week, with the theme today (Wednesday) being Apprenticeships. As well as giving young people valuable experience of the workplace and the opportunity to gain new skills, work experience can also be a route into an Apprenticeship, which has great benefit both for young people and for employers seeking future Apprentices.

Thame-based construction, design and renovation firm StuartBarrCDR, winner of the Oxfordshire Business Awards Apprenticeship of the Year Award 2016, uses work experience as a way of recruiting Apprentices.

The company engages with local schools and young people, investing a lot of time and care into running an annual two week summer work experience placement for up to 12 students who have just completed Year 11. The placement is carefully structured and gives students the chance to try out different aspects of the construction industry under the guidance of experienced mentors.

As well as giving potential Apprentices a real taste of what a career with StuartBarrCDR is like, the placement also gives the firm a chance to see if they would be a good fit for the business. Having completed their placements, attendees are encouraged to apply for an Apprenticeship at StuartBarrCDR, which most do. Around half of those who have completed a work experience placement have secured an Apprenticeship with the firm as a result. Those that don’t go on to an Apprenticeship with StuartBarrCDR are given advice and support to help them take their next step, with the valuable skills and experience they have gained under their belts.

Electrical engineering firm Darke & Taylor, winner of the previous year’s Oxfordshire Business Awards Apprenticeship of the Year Award, also actively supports work experience and works with a number of local schools to offer up to 6 work experience places per year. 

Commercial Director Simon Newton says: “The placements are an opportunity to see potential future employees in action and also for those individuals to see if they are genuinely interested in following a career as an electrician – a sort of “try before you buy” for both parties. Our work experience placements work really well, both for the individuals who do a placement and for the company’s recruitment effort. Around 10% of our current electricians and trainee electricians have completed a work experience placement at the company. So there can be a real link from work experience to actually getting a job when you leave school.”

Leading jet tender specialist, Williams Performance Tenders in Berinsfield have used a work experience placement scheme to recruit Apprentices for the last 4 years. Each year, 10 year 10 students attend a 5 week long powerboat workshop, giving them the chance to learn life-long skills in the marine and engineering industry and teaching them more about the sector. At the end of the programme, students are invited to apply for an Apprenticeship at the company. Read more.

Mathew Hornsby, Sales Director at Williams Performance Tenders, said: “It’s always been important that we help to nurture and invest in the boat builders, designers and engineers of our future. We have been so impressed with the calibre of the students, as well as their dedication and hard work. The Apprentices that we’ve hired over the past few years are working out really well and it’s fantastic to see them grow in their role here at Williams.”


The University of Oxford Dunn School of Pathology were one of a number of organisations who took part in Science Oxford’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) World of Work Programme this summer. They provided a two-week ‘STEM Apprentice placement’ to 16 year olds Jasmin Ullaskumar from Matthew Arnold School in Oxford (pictured above) and Elizabeth Moulson from Chipping Norton School during the school holidays. Read more.

The organisation sees real value in using the scheme to help their talent pipeline by encouraging younger people into the workforce. Human Resources Manager Frances Wright said: “The University of Oxford is committed to being an inclusive employer and he STEM Apprentice Placement Programme is a key part of furthering this agenda. The department is delighted to be part of the scheme.”

Elizabeth explained how the placement has fuelled her enthusiasm to undertake a career in science: “I now have insights into the different jobs in the department and I’m really encouraged to work hard and become a scientist.” 

Having discovered something they’d like to aim for, work experience also gives young people the opportunity to discover what qualifications and further work experience they need to obtain to help them succeed when it comes to applying.

We’re really pleased to see the focus on Apprenticeships during Work Experience Week and have the opportunity to share some of the fantastic examples of how work experience can lead to an Apprenticeship.