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Awards 2022

Understanding and Co-ordinating Work Experience in West Cumbria

Cath Howard of BEPDT, has asked BECBC to share this update:

Over the last few months, I’ve talked to many people about work experience in West Cumbria. Overall there is agreement that due to COVID-19, many young people will miss out on traditional work experience this year. Some young people have been able to access virtual work experience and support which has been very well received.

However, even in a “normal” year, work experience can vary dramatically between schools, young people (YP) and employers, ranging from positive and inspiring placements to poor quality or simply the wrong experience for the wrong person.

YP from poorer backgrounds or from disadvantaged areas are even more disadvantaged if they do not have natural networks and opportunities available to them. If the YP has parents who are very involved, it’s likely that they have talked about future careers and find a placement fitting that future career.

YP without connections have less resources, they may well be shoehorned into activities that they are just not interested in. Furthermore the schools have limited resources so may well offer an opportunity as “this is what’s available, take it or leave it”. Examples anecdotally are YP interested in becoming a tradesperson (plumbing/joiner etc.) being put on a 4 week course for engineers and dropping out by day 2. A young girl sent for a week of admin who said on her first day, “but I want to be a beautician not admin”. Disheartening for the employer and the YP.

So if there are lots of opportunities available, how do we ensure our most disadvantaged students gain support?

The aim of the meeting

1. To build on Chris’ Pickles mapping in Copeland to see what opportunities exist in WC and where there are gaps.

2. To explore the idea of a more co-ordinated approach to work experience for YP from disadvantaged backgrounds.

3. Explore a structured approach for employers to more simply engage with and to possibly share opportunities.

4. To explore virtual work experience offers to see if learning can be combined

I hope you can join me, as this is a real opportunity to make a difference in West Cumbria.

Cath is arranging an initial meeting, please log your interest at:

For more info contact: