How Virtual Work Experience Helps Employers Identify Future Talent

What is Virtual Work Experience?

Virtual work experience is an accessible means by which students can learn about professions, undertake engaging tasks and develop employment skills without having to make regular visits to an employer in person.

It is an option that makes work experience at any employer available to any student, not just those who live close by or have a means of transport.

For students it has become an integral part of pathway selection, helping them apply for work or further education with greater confidence. They stand out having benefitted from a wider range of experiences and the chance to assess career choices that would be impossible to trial in person.

However, what do employers gain? How does switching to virtual work experience provide benefits over getting talented youngsters through the door?

At Springpod, we are UKleading experts in virtual work experience.In this article, we will explain how and why businesses of all sizes and across all sectors work with us to provide this new form of opportunity.

Virtual Work Experience Makes Placements Available To All Students

For generations, huge numbers of would-be candidates have been unable to even consider work experience in industries they may have found engaging.

There are many reasons for this, and perhaps the most obvious is that they simply didn’t live close enough to an employer. For a huge number of students anything not in walking distance, or an easy bus ride, is out of the question.

Traditionally, work experience placements were arranged by a school or college. If a student’s school or college had no links to an employer, their options were limited with no role models from their college to pave the way. For the lucky few a well connected parent might have been their link, leading to the recent phenomenon of “nepo babies”.

The cost of placement might have been prohibitive, a need - perceived or otherwise - to buy smart office clothes, not to mention transport again. Traveling by train to a work placement is not cheap, especially for a student who might be from a low-income family.

Virtual work experience is simply fairer to all concerned, anyone with access to a computer can participate and this does not need to be their own device. Courses can be undertaken on school, college and library computers and some aspects can be done on a mobile too, even while travelling.

Built-in tracking enables employers to demonstrate how they have been able tocreate social impactthrough these placements and deliver on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments.

An extra point to consider is that virtual work experience will also often be an appealing option for students with accessibility needs. One example being neurodivergent teenagers who can learn about an industry in a way that may be far less stressful or overwhelming to their senses. Many businesses are actively trying torecruit more neurodivergent peopleand online work experience is a good early start.

Deepen your talent pool

Employers can request placements are offered with priority given to specific demographics, for example girls, those from ethnic minorities, or those on free school meals. As the online nature of the experience means location is no longer a limiting factor, the virtual work experience provider is able to pull from a huge national or international database to promote your offering to those with which you would wish to engage.

There are also no physical limitations to the number of students an employer might offer virtual work experience to. In theory, a small business could have 1,000 students a year undertake virtual work experience, but in reality it simply offers the opportunity to interact with a larger number of people with a wider range of skills and experiences.

Identify Future Talent Through Virtual Work Experience Provision

By providing a work experience placement to a far greater number of students, any employer creates a natural funnel through which they can identify talent for the future.

If, for example, 100 students undertake virtual work experience, perhaps 20 will show particular interest and aptitude for the tasks built into the placement.

These students could be offered in-person work experience, perhaps with an offer to cover transport costs and other expenses. The fact they have already demonstrated ability makes this a reasonable investment in a potential future employee.

We havenumerous case studiesthat demonstrate the benefit to student and employer alike, three examples listed below. The percentages will vary by industry, employer and year, but it is clear that the more students you can offer virtual work experience to, the more you can showcase your industry to, the more will end up considering a profession in your line of work.

 Virtual work experience also makes it possible to get insight into professions where it might be difficult for safety reasons to have young, untrained people on site. Again, the funnel comes into play, through virtual work experience identifying those who might then be suitable to have on site in the future.

Apprentice Stories 

Natasha Manuel

Controls and Monitoring Apprentice - Julies Bear

Springpod Work Experience

Marketing - February 2021

Finance - February 2021

Business Management -  June 2021

Samuel Allmet

Corporate and Commercial Banking Degree Apprentice - Santander UK

Springpod Work Experience

Law - April 2021

Finance - April 2021

Finance & Accountancy - August 2021

Business Management - August 2021

Consulting - August 2021

Danielle Bradley

Solicitor Apprentice - Keser & Co Solicitors

Springpod Work Experience

Law - April 2021

Teaching - April 2021

How Virtual Work Experience Improves Employability Skills

Data - and who doesn’t love a statistic - shows us that students who have had at least ‘four contacts with employers before leaving school’ are 86% less likely to be NEET, or not in education, employment or training. Unfortunately, other statistics show that around half of students leave educationwithout any work experience.

Gaining four in-person contacts with employers is a challenging task for most students and realistically impossible for many, but this is not the case with virtual work experience. A student could undertake four placements during the summer holidays, certainly inside a school year. It is also possible to experience more than one placement at a time given the course modules are on-demand.

They can easily try out multiple industries, including those which might be a left-field choice, the opportunity to try more experiences removes a lot of the risk associated with a more limited set of choices.

Similarly, it can help reduce any conflict with parents - who may perhaps want them to try accountancy, whereas the student would much rather look into fashion design. They can now explore their passion while also considering other, perhaps more traditionally ‘safe’ options.

Regardless of whether any individual student ultimately works for an employer, the fact they have provided them with a virtual placement has helped bolster their skillset and employability. Just being one of those four contacts helps boost the talent pool for all companies and gives a helping hand to the next generation.

Virtual Work Experience - How Much Work For The Employer?

Providing work experience in-person can be stressful. It typically relies on the engagement of a number of employees and can quickly fall apart in unforeseen circumstances, for instance if the person who was going to deliver the first day of the placement is ill or unexpectedly sidetracked.

We may all have memories of work experience from our own past when we felt somewhat unwanted at times, or kept busy with time consuming, but low value admin tasks.

We work with employers to create a compelling work placement based on both what the employer wishes to promote, but also what will be of interest and value to the student -numerous case studiesshowcase the experience for student and employer alike.

A range of elements are available, but it is common to have quizzes, tasks, elements of gamification and also more formal elements such as videos, these varying from giving an insight into senior roles, through to what the company is like from the perspective of new starters.

A constant feedback loop enables further changes to the programme, optimising it to improve engagement and with all our technology in house, we are making constant improvements to the offering.

A further benefit of virtual work experience overseen by specialists is that allsafeguardingconcerns are automatically addressed, for instance students’ data is safe and secure - no webcams or names are shared during any live webinar or talk and students and employers never have 1-to-1 interactions.

The administrative burden of work experience is greatly reduced, and yet you can offer the experience to many more students.

Virtual Work Experience Helps Businesses Build Links With Colleges and Schools

As you will be aware, schools and colleges are assessed against the Gatsby Benchmarks which monitor their success in providing career guidance. Gatsby 5 and 6 are of particular relevance here, these relating to opportunities for students to gain workplace experience.

 Virtual work experience is ideal for these schools and colleges, it enables them to encourage students towards all manner of opportunities. Rather than ringing around local businesses, trying to find enough places to take a cohort of years 10 to 12 students, there are multiple opportunities which each have unlimited availability.

The flip side to this is that businesses that do not engage with virtual work experience may increasingly struggle to attract quality students for placements, certainly via traditional routes. We work with 4,000 schools and colleges globally, a figure increasing rapidly.

About Springpod

With a database of 400,000 students and trusted by the world’s leading employers including Barclays, NHS, BMW, PWC, Airbus and Meta, and many more across all sectors, Springpod is a leading UK provider of virtual work experience.

Rated 4.7 out of 5 on Google andTrustpilotfrom hundreds of verified reviews, we have a proven track record of working with employers to create engaging work experience programmes that give students a true insight into the industry while also bolstering their employability skills and choosing the right pathway for them.

Free for every student, Springpod is monetised through university and employer partnerships and school and college premium memberships.

Our aim is that regardless of their background, every young person will experience a university course or career before they apply.

To find out more and perhaps take the first steps into a VWEX programme visit our dedicated partner sitehere.


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