What is work experience?
Work experience is unpaid (or the student is paid a small amount to cover travel or food) work that assists students in gaining experience in a profession of their choice. It is a safe and structured way for students to gain the experience of being an employee by undertaking the tasks or duties of other employees on the employer’s premises with a strong focus on the learning aspects of the work. In Australia, this generally occurs in Year 10, Year 12 and as part of TAFE or University degrees.
Why is it important?
Without work experience young people may have little understanding of what ‘work’ actually is or what it involves, how to act within a team of workers and contribute to team outcomes, and how to understand and meet the expectation of employers.
What types of work experience are there?
The most common form of work experience is ‘block work experience’ which is a two week period where students attend an employer’s premises and (more or less) act as an employee would act. Students generally attend one workplace for two weeks or two workplaces for one week each. Other far less common forms of work experience include work simulations and group visits to workplaces.
What hours does the student work?
The hours worked and the continuity of work is generally agreed upon by the employer, school, parents and the student. Please check your local regulations to find out the minimum and maximum number of hours that students must work. Generally, the start and finish times of work do not have to match school hours but they should be within the hours of 7am and 7pm. It is not advisable to ask students to work excessively long hours.
Does the student get paid?
Most employers provide a minimum of $5 per day to the student to cover meals and any travel expenses. Additional payment can be made to the student but that is completely at the discretion of the employer and is not required.
Are there any legal ramifications of having a work experience student at my workplace?
There may be some but we don’t offer any legal advice nor specialise in this area and suggest you contact someone who does.