The last year has not been easy on anyone and even more so young people. The pandemic caused the institution of restrictions on movements and social gatherings, which profoundly impacted the work and school environment. There were nearly a quarter of 18-year-olds unemployed by the end of 2020, likewise, almost a quarter of young people declared that their education was one of the most daunting aspects that they were concerned about during the past 12 months.
Research from Speakers for Schools lends insight into the growing popularity of virtual work experience. The organization was established in 2010 by Robert Peston and has been exploring innovative solutions to guarantee that fresh graduates do not face obstacles as they seek out work experience.
Virtual Work Experience
Virtual work experience is not a new idea, but it was never a popular choice before 2020. It wasn't simply students who were hesitant to participate; companies were as well. The concept encompasses any platform that gives young people the experience of working in a particular sector or work role while still at home.
Many traditionally in-person workplace roles have been replaced by virtual work experience. The virtual delivery approach for work experience has altered early outreach programs for firms in various areas and industries, allowing them to dramatically increase the number of placements offered while expanding their geographic reach.
There are 5,890 more work experience placement opportunities available across the UK from April 2020 - March 2021. 71% of these are now available as virtual work experience opportunities. These positions are open around the country. With 13,624 placements, England is now the country with the highest work opportunities. Virtual job experience accounts for 91% of the total.
There are 6,011 placements for young people in Wales, 6,009 in Scotland and 6,040 in Northern Ireland. Within these virtual work experience placements account for more than 70% of the total.
The prominence of online work experience in the construction industry
Though the public health crisis has influenced every sector, one has been able to continue operating with minimal disruption. Construction sites in the United Kingdom were allowed to continue working throughout the shutdown.
This not only allowed businesses to continue being profitable but also piqued the curiosity of school leavers. Many young adults prefer to gain trade skills instead of attending college or university. Job security is a concern for many professionals, and younger people are looking for jobs that will keep them secure even if the worst happens and we have another pandemic in our lifetime.
1,834 school work experience opportunities were available as a result of this enthusiasm and the construction industry's sustained prosperity. These were a combination of in-person and online interactions.
Virtual WEX in the health sector
Whether data entry or accounting, desk work is one of the several gears that keep the healthcare system running. The system could not function properly without these workers. These workers are among the heroes working to keep us alive and well despite tight budgets and resources strained to their limits.
Because of the widespread media coverage of NHS employees and their valiant efforts during the epidemic, school leavers have shown an increased desire to join their ranks and make a difference.
Within this timeframe, the UK experienced a rapid increase in healthcare placements. The NHS and various NHS Trusts delivered over 1,300 virtual work experience opportunities – both as part of their Virtual Experience Nursing program and to encourage doctors to specialize in pathology and other areas in medicine that do not require a lot of patient contact.
The retail industry is staying up-to-date
Despite the poor economic conditions during the epidemic, 250 young people from throughout the UK obtained valuable work experience in the retail business. Firms such as Tesco provided virtual assignments to ensure that COVID-19 constraints did not prevent them from taking part.
For their work experience assignment, students are no longer restricted to their current area. Because students are not housed in offices, firms may provide an unlimited number of positions while still complying with social distance and capacity requirements.
Big brands are seizing this opportunity
Popular brands have leapt at the chance to hire the brightest school leavers available, giving them valuable experience and references for their CV. For several years, Spotify, a music streaming service, has collaborated with Speakers for Schools. Spotify has boosted its placements by over +4000% due to the popularity of virtual work experience.
Where do we go from here?
Businesses can now provide Virtual Work Experience to anybody, regardless of geography, money, or background, thanks to advances in technology that make it more accessible to students and school leavers. Employers across the UK now see how a more inclusive model for work experience benefits them by attracting a more diverse range of talented young people.