work experience

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The placement of a pupil, student, or trainee in a work environment where they will gain supervised experience of working within that business, company, or organization. It was an integral part of early youth training programmes such as the Youth Opportunities Programme and the Youth Training Scheme, where the trainee was placed with an employer to receive on‐the‐job training—that is, training of a practical, experiential kind—and attended a further education college or other training provider for part of the week in order to receive off‐the‐job training, which often included the underpinning theoretical component of the work skills they were acquiring. This pattern of attendance was similar to the day release arrangements which operated for trainees in employment. Work experience was extended into some full‐time programmes of study in further education in the 1980s, notably Business and Technology Education Council courses in vocational areas such as business education. In schools it is now common practice to encourage pupils to undertake one or two weeks of closely supervised work experience at the end of Year 10. In higher education, some four‐year degree courses include a year of work experience, and are often referred to as sandwich courses, the year in work representing the filling in the middle. For some qualifications the experience of work is an integral and essential component, as, for example, for a degree in medicine. Students studying for language degrees are normally encouraged or required to spend a year overseas as part of their programme, practising the language they are studying while at the same time gaining work experience, often as an English language assistant in a school.

Subjects: Education.

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