How many of you are currently unemployed, but would like to have some sort of casual employment? Who isn’t set on their future career, but would like to have a better idea? Who likes making money?
So what if I told you, I know a way to fulfill all of these desires. The answer is work experience. I believe work experience should be integrated into Australia’s curriculum and be a compulsory part of high school. Currently some public schools have a work experience opportunity for students at the end of year 9 or 10, but not all schools enforce this. I believe every school in Australia should implement an element of work experience. By making it a part of the high school curriculum it will teach students new skills not learned in the classroom. It will make the difficult task of gaining employment much easier. It can give students the opportunity to see what is really involved in their dream job and it’s a good way to earn some extra cash.
By integrating work experience into Australia’s high school curriculum it will expose students to an opportunity to gain a whole new range of necessary life skills, develop their personal attributes and exercise learned practices. Textbooks and schools teach you essential information you will use in life and in the workforce and while this information if obviously necessary and important, they do not teach you the next vital step which is knowing how to actually execute and apply this learned knowledge in a real life situation or workplace. This can only be taught properly, through practical experience.
From personal experience I know that the workforce teaches you many valuable skills and lessons that school will not and physically cannot. From working at Fernwood gym I have acquired many skills and learnt things I otherwise wouldn’t have. Some of these include professionalism, sacrifice, independence, responsibility and organisation. Before I gained employment I was very shy with strangers and didn’t like to put myself out there. I have been taught how I’m meant speak professionally to strangers, but when put in a real situation it can be a lot more daunting than anticipated. Through working I have been forced into an environment with situations very much out of my comfort zone. Although I was hesitant at first, this has taught me how to overcome my emotions. I have learnt that life is going to throw challenges at me that will help me develop my skills and it is important to take them on, rather than avoid them. I have taken these new found skills and applied them to not only my work but also my school studies and life situations.
Another benefit of work experience for students is, it can give them the opportunity to test drive their future career. Certain work experience, known as work shadowing or even an internship allows students to work closely with a professional of their particular field. They get to watch closely the jobs and duties undertaken by the employee, listen and feel their workplace environment and most likely even participate in the simpler tasks performed by employees of that field. An opportunity like this gives students a real insight into jobs and can help for subject or even job selection in the future.
On CSIRO’s website a student named Huon wrote about his work experience at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and he said ‘The best thing about my work experience at CSIRO was realising that maths in real life could actually be interesting. The only maths I had done previously was school exercises and a few contrived problems that at the time didn’t seem to apply to anything. David was an awesome supervisor and I thank him for making it so enjoyable’. Huon clearly benefited from his work experience in more ways than one. He got to see how his maths work done in school can actually be applied to something useful in the world and was reassured maths is something he enjoys and would be interested to continue with after school. Schools shouldn’t deny anyone the opportunity to make these realisations.
For all, finding employment can be a difficult task but it is especially hard for us as students. Without experience you appear unemployable, and without a job you appear inexperienced. This cycle is hard to break out of, but I believe work experience is the key. I believe it can enhance your chances of getting a job immensely.
There are certain things desired and required from employers for them to even consider hiring as I have learnt through business management studies and seeing it in workplaces. These things can include previous experience in a similar workforce, person affiliations, certain trainings and more. In fact according to the VCE business management textbook, the most popular strategy used by organisations when recruiting is networking, which is the process of recruiting through word of mouth from trusted people. This is a cost effective strategy for businesses.
Once a student completes work experience at a workplace, if the workplace hires young staff the student is more than likely to gain employment, This is because A) the workplace has trained them and by hiring the student it would save them time and money in inductions, advertising and all related recruitment costs. B) the work experience time has allowed the student to prove their capability of the job, so the employer can be sure they are hiring a productive employee and C) the experience has allowed the employee to build rapport with the employer and that relationship is already made. These three things that come out of work experience are essential when being considered a potential employee.
Another reason why finding employment is so difficult for students is because they have minimal experience to write on their resume. Many businesses are more than happy to temporarily take on work experience students but are more hesitant when actually employing inexperienced students. By having the opportunity to do work experience, this gives students something useful to put on the resume that might not be available otherwise which will then immediately improve employability.
So by making work experience part of our high school education it can give us a real edge in the workforce making future employment a much more attainable goal whether it at the work experience organisation or another. This can apply when gaining full time employment as well, not just first time jobs. A study by the national centre for vocational education has found that in the tertiary education sector those who undertook a structured component of experience during their courses had better employment outcomes than those who did not work.
Parents, teachers and even students may feel that work experience could interrupt their school studies, put them behind their peers and disadvantage them in the future so it should not be compulsory. But in actual fact, the impact work experience can have on students reflects back into their school work and will often lead to an improvement in study scores. By allocating a specific week for all students to take part in work experience will ensure no student is left behind because all peers will be at the same level in their learning.
Work experience can help reinforce things learnt at school and teach new useful skills relevant not only to the workplace but to school studies as well. By being able to see what we are being taught in a real life situation it helps grasp the key concepts and then makes it easier for us to explain them back to teachers when being tested, dramatically increasing study scores.
A personal example I can share is in my business management classes, I am taught things such as the management styles for small businesses. I work for a small business controlled by a management of a particular style. By working under a management it helps me to differentiate between the management styles much more clearly and I understand how they work in real life. By seeing in my workplace what I am learning in class, I find it a lot easier to explain the necessary information on my SACS. This is just one specific example, but almost everything I learn in business management I see in my workplace.
And although work experience is already an available option for high school students since it is not encouraged and enforced the number of students making the most of the opportunity are slim to none. By making it compulsory it reminds those students who always wanted to do it that it is there. As
for students who do not desire to take part in work experience, making it compulsory is no different to obtaining a job after schooling. In life after high school and tertiary education it is almost unheard of to live without a job. Students need to be taught the importance of employment and understand that it is not always a choice, it is a survival tool.
Conclusion: By making work experience a compulsory part of a high school education I believe it will benefit today’s youth in ways that textbooks can’t. The benefits are endless, compared to what I can see, as no real negative effect. It will teach students crucial skills which they will use for the rest of their life. It may confirm your dream job or even help pay for that next concert ticket. This experience will transform our generation into a much more independent, hard working, mature and responsible one.