From early 2020, the onset of the pandemic took everyone by surprise and various sectors have suffered from the effects that still extend till now. Young people had to face the challenge of gaining school work experience in an era where social distancing and other lockdown rules pose obstacles.
This article will draw points from research from Speakers for Schools, a charity organisation founded by Robert Peston, which analyses the trends in the job placements offered by companies in diverse sectors following the pandemic. For over a decade, the firm has been providing young school leavers with the opportunities to gain work experience under elite level organisations all around the UK.
Virtual work experience is a technological trend that is becoming the norm in many businesses across industries. Not only does this concept fill the gap created by restrictions placed on physical interactions, but people can utilise it to gain work experience in their potential career from the comfort of their homes. Companies that incorporate online work experience in their placements have seen that the workforce’s productivity was not affected negatively.
How has Virtual Work Experience Become the Norm in UK Industries?
According to the study by Speakers for Schools, there were 5,890 more placements offered between April 2020 – March 2021 compared to April 2019 – March 2020. The majority (71%) of these opportunities all over the UK were offered as virtual placements.
Since last year, there has been an increase in placements offered in Wales by 6,011. There were 6,040 more placements enlisted in Northern Ireland, while Scotland saw an increase of 6,009 placements in the last year.
In the last 12 months, the construction sector enlisted over 1,800 more pandemic placement opportunities, making them the biggest contributor to the UK job market in recent times. It’s only expected since the sector had endured only minimal disruption during the lockdown. In this period, there were over 1,335 more placement opportunities available in the healthcare sector. Graduates looking for work experience during the pandemic were welcome to contribute to the sector as it saw a rapid increase in the demand for health professionals for resolving COVID related conditions.
The Speakers for Schools schemes have been continuously implemented by some popular brands, even with lockdown restrictions in place. In the bid to improve the quality of their C.V, school leavers prefer to gain work experience from household names. Spotify proved to be extremely popular for work experience opportunities as there was an increase of 4,168% of virtual work experience opportunities available in London.
Another household name, Severn Trent also enlisted more jobs since the lockdown by 525%. There was also a 39% increment in the opportunities given by Cisco to employable youths in the UK.
How can Businesses Benefit from Virtual Work Experience?
While young people can utilise placements with virtual work experience to better prepare themselves for their prospective career, companies also stand to benefit by implementing the concept. On one hand, school leavers typically need work experience to develop their expertise and gain knowledge about workplace etiquette.
On the other hand, the provision of remote job roles can help organisations to find talents in different locations around the country at a minimal cost. Young people in disadvantaged environments are usually unable to get opportunities to work with big brands because of the cost of travelling and living in places close to the firm’s location.
However, virtual work experience programmes make it possible for them to get access to such placements from anywhere in the UK.
Remote working also allows global companies to manage their employees better and create a platform for enhanced customer service since issues can be reported and resolved across several locations.
Since regular communication across the separate arms is vital to the operation of a global organisation, their leadership should rely on a system with online work experience that can allow employees to cooperate from the comfort of their homes. Customer service is highly dependent on the collaborative effort of HR teams and other departments, which is naturally improved in organisations with online placements.
The concept of virtual work experience is not a new one, but the after-effects of the pandemic and lockdown made it a trend since last year. Studies show that remote jobs have grown popular over the past 16 years by 159% across the world. Speaker for Schools’ research shows that both students and companies can utilise remote job opportunities to check if they are compatible and help each other to achieve their most important goals.