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AGCAS launches Work Experience Standard to support student success and equitable graduate outcomes

22 / 07 / 2022Kalina Zlatkova

AGCAS has launched a Work Experience Standard and Good Practice Guide  to tackle the growing disparity in student access to equitable and high-quality work experience opportunities and to support the delivery of high standard careers education across all student groups.

As the global labour market and economy are slowly moving beyond the post-pandemic landscape, the UK Higher Education sector is reflecting on student career readiness and graduate outcomes affected by this period. Many universities have made significant investment in developing innovative work experience opportunities, in partnership with employers, as well as ongoing skills delivery aligned to industrial need and growth.

During the pandemic, the ISE Student Development Survey of employers, reported that recent graduates lacked essential career management as well as specialist technical skills. 78% of employers confirmed that graduates who complete an internship or work placement are more skilled than those who do not but the 2020 Student Recruitment Survey showed that internships and placement opportunities had declined 29% and 25% respectively within the same period.

The ISE survey results also indicated that employers prefer digital delivery moving forwards, with up to 67% of placements expected as hybrid in 2021/2022 and only 24% being delivered face-to-face.

According to the Prospects’ 2022 Early Careers Survey, 79% of student respondents declared that they had managed to complete some form of work experience throughout the previous year. However, the survey outcomes also show that students from a lower socio-economic background were less likely to have undertaken a type of work experience compared to their peers. The data showed that over two thirds of student respondents had only been able to engage with unpaid work experience opportunities, which only 36% indicated as “very useful” and only 30% referenced it having “improved their career prospects”.

The Work Experience Standard and Good Practice Guide are essential tools to aid the creation of meaningful and equitable work experience opportunities, through collaboration between universities and industrial partners. These were built by AGCAS in consultation and collaboration with a cross-sector working group of  key HE, employer, and education services partners, and are further endorsed by the ISE, Clifford Chance, RMP, NCUB, Prospects and GTI.

GTI supports the fundamental aims of this initiative:

  • Ensuring that work experience opportunities are created and delivered as areas of quality and value to the learning outcomes as well as career development of both students and graduates.
  • Ensuring that these opportunities are accessible, meaningful, and relevant to both students and graduates independently of their background or personal characteristics.
  • Continuously supporting employers in the creation of high-quality work experience opportunities as well as their understanding of the HE landscape and requirements of educational delivery.
  • Continuously supporting HEIs and employers across the UK in uniting work experience approaches and increasing their community outreach and access to diverse pools of early talent.

This approach defines the minimum standard for quality delivery which the group has identified as essential in order for relevant opportunities to be showcased and promoted across HE partners.

The full Work Experience Standard and Good Practice Guide are publicly available through AGCAS. If you would like to join the employers, sector bodies and organisations endorsing this work, please complete this form.

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