Culture clash on the way to work

April 30, 1999

David Blunkett's announcement that every student ought to have a period of work experience is warmly welcomed. However, the parameters need to be identified, and much investment needs to take place for it to become a reality.

Most higher education institutions will want to decide for themselves what constitutes an acceptable period in order to be sufficiently valuable for recognition in their institution.

Some institutions, however, may want guidance, and the National Centre for Work Experience is consulting employers, students and academics on what they feel is a sufficient period.

Resources also have to be found. It would take a doubling of existing provision for every student to have some work experience during a year of their course. It would also require substantial staff development nationally, curriculum redesign and development of assessment tools and accreditation procedures. In addition, employers willing to give undergraduates work experience need to be found. Without adequate resources, neither employers nor academics will think this a serious policy.

Karen Powell-Williams

Managing director

National Centre for Work Experience

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