Work experience 'improves job prospects' - survey

The Northern Echo: Principal designate of Studio West  in Newcastle, Val Wigham, pictured on the site of the new school with Craig Melville from OGN Principal designate of Studio West in Newcastle, Val Wigham, pictured on the site of the new school with Craig Melville from OGN

REGULAR work experience whilst in education significantly increases a student’s chances of gaining employment, research commissioned by a North-East school has found.

The research comes as Studio West, the North-East’s ‘studio school’ for 13 to 19-year-olds, which will provide all students with compulsory weekly or fortnightly work experience placements built into the timetable, prepares to open in September, with students going into Year Nine, Year Ten and Year 12 able to apply.

The figures show that 91 per cent of North-East business leaders, who took part in the research, said they would be more inclined to employ a student who had taken part in regular work experience placements throughout their education than a student with the same qualifications but no work experience.

The school, which is inspired by Californian school High Tech High, is bringing project-based learning to the North East, which uses enterprise projects to teach students practical skills as well as academic subjects.

Val Wigham, principal designate at Studio West, said: “Time after time, employers tell us that schools are failing to prepare students for the world of work and while many have the right qualifications for the job, they lack practical skills that are just as important, such as communication skills, the ability to solve problems, time management, independence and commercial awareness.

“The ethos of Studio West is to bridge the gap between school and employment not only by offering work placements, but by immersing students in a business culture from the very start of their education. As well as 13-year-old pupils who will begin studying for their GCSEs in September, we are able to take students in Year Ten who would like to transfer to a school which can offer more practical training alongside the qualifications employers value.”

To help students absorb business culture, employers will have a direct input into the school’s culture and curriculum.

North East businesses which have given their backing to the school include oil and gas engineering firm OGN.

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