Access was founded in 2013 by Jenny Halpern Prince and David Meller in response to the Wolf Report into vocational education for 14-19 year olds, and specifically Professor Wolf’s conclusion that work experience should be one of highest government policy priorities for 16-18 year olds.
A broad range of independent research has demonstrated that providing meaningful work experience to young people offers tangible benefits to not only to society as a whole by decreasing youth unemployment and increasing social mobility, but also to specific stakeholders:
1. Young people – 88% of young people cite a visit to an employer as the most useful source of careers advice as ‘very useful’ or ‘useful’. One of the most consistent findings from surveys of young Britons about the benefits they gained from work experience placement is that it helped them in their thinking about career aspirations and progression towards achieving them.
2. Employers – Only 22 per cent of employers in a recent UKCES survey recruit young people (aged 16 to 24). Of these, between 12 per cent and 29 per cent do not find them well-prepared for work. The main reason cited is a lack of experience of the working world or ‘life experience’, followed by a lack of the required skills or competencies (mostly applying to graduates and less to school and college leavers), poor attitude or a lack of motivation, and lastly poor education and literacy and numeracy skills.
3. Tertiary education institutions – Work experience can often constitute an essential criteria for determining admission to university courses. Looking at admissions requirements for six courses of study at the 20 Russell Group universities, it shows work experience (or similar activity) being a desirable or essential requirement within the vast majority of courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, and a significant minority (one-fifth to one-third) of courses in engineering, law and business/economics Young people cite a visit to an employer as the most useful source of careers advice with 88 per cent describing it as ‘very useful’ or ‘useful’.
4. Schools – More than 80% of schools have reduced provision for careers guidance and work placement support since September 2012.