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In conversation: Lesley Hudson, Workforce Development Officer – Northumberland County Council.

In conversation: Lesley Hudson, Workforce Development Officer – Northumberland County Council.

Improving the offer of work experience to schools and colleges using the newly launched North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Work Experience Framework.

Following the launch of the Work Experience Framework, organisations across the North East are using the resources to adapt and develop their current offers of work experience to schools and colleges in their local area, providing meaningful encounters between young people and employers.

In my role as Workforce Development Officer at Northumberland County Council, I am responsible for developing our outreach offer to local schools and colleges. Work experience across various departments is a longstanding offer for young people.

Working with the North East LEP as an Enterprise Adviser at a local Academy, I was made aware of the newly developed Work Experience Framework and knew it would be something that would positively impact and develop our current offer of work experience, as well as make the encounters we have with young people more strategic and meaningful.

I have found the Framework, and its 12 modules incredibly easy to navigate. I started by using the module resources and activities to develop a bespoke programme of work experience for our Health and Social Care department for young people from local schools and colleges to access.

I have used the skill development modules such as teamwork, problem solving, effective project management, recruitment process and presenting to support students to develop their skillset whilst completing their work experience. Additionally, the workplace challenge concept has enabled me to set students an authentic project relevant to the department so they are gaining realistic insight into the job role and sector they are experiencing.

Thanks to the Framework being so flexible, we have now been able to take a modular approach to our offer where schools and colleges can either deliver a programme over three full days or deliver bitesize chunks over a longer period of time, suiting a range of different delivery methods. I will now work with other departments across the council such as

Northumberland Communities Together, Early Years and Climate Change to develop a council-wide offer of work experience opportunities.

A top tip I have for other organisations and employers looking to develop their current offer or start to offer work experience for young people is to take full advantage of the resources within the North East LEP’s Framework and the highlighted opportunities to customise modules and activities to the context of your organisation.

The Framework provides a really easy to use and clear structure with resources pitched appropriately to engage with young people. It really has made my job a lot easier and our work experience offer a lot more meaningful and engaging.

You may also want to consider using modules in a particular sequence depending on what your workplace challenge consists of. We found that when setting a challenge where students work in groups on a task based project, the teamwork and effective project management modules really complemented the experience and gave students a head start to develop the appropriate skills required to complete the task.

For more information about the Work Experience Framework, please click here.