More than 3,600 students from across East Sussex have been given an insight into the world of work recently through the council’s work experience scheme, which offers workplace opportunities to students aged 14 to 18.

Libby, a year 10 student at Robertsbridge Community College, was one of those who took part.

Libby wanted a placement in hospitality as she felt it would help her confidence, and using her own initiative, Libby secured work experience at the New Inn pub in Westfield after approaching the owner.

Giving young people a chance

Patrick Edwards, Company Director of the New Inn, was more than happy to give Libby a work experience placement.

“I believe in giving young people a chance to learn on the job. It’s how I learnt. I started off on an apprenticeship 25 years ago, so when Libby came and asked about work experience, I was pleased to say yes.

“She’s developed so much during her work placement with us, gaining in confidence and I was delighted to offer her a part time job. Nothing is too much trouble. She’s very polite and is going to do well in life.”

Serving customers

Libby worked front of house, taking orders from customers and waitressing.

“I was serving customers, taking orders, running food out from the kitchen. I also helped serve drinks and clean up the pub and learnt how to clean equipment like the coffee machine.

“My favourite part of work experience was taking orders. I love talking to the customers, interacting with them, seeing how their lives are. They are definitely up for a little chat and a bit of banter, which I absolutely loved.”

‘Encouraging and amazing’

The placement has helped Libby in many ways.

“It’s helped me to be more confident and improve my time keeping, teamwork and communication.

“The next time I’m looking for jobs, I’m definitely going to be more confident in the way I present myself considering I went inside and I had to speak to the owner of the pub.

“My work experience placement was helpful, encouraging and amazing, and I’ve been offered a weekend job which is great!”

Record numbers

Mark Likeman, Work Experience Team Leader at the council, and his colleagues have helped record numbers of students secure work placements this year.

“During Covid far fewer pupils were able to enter workplaces or undertake work experience placements. Now restrictions have been removed, students want to gain real life experiences of the workplace again.

“We have seen a huge resurgence in interest from local schools who are keen to learn more about our work experience scheme, which gives young people an important opportunity to build their confidence, grow their skills, learn about the workplace and make informed career choices.

“Our schools are now really driving forward with encouraging students to undertake a work placement to develop their work-related skills and make decisions about their future career as these opportunities are crucial for when they come to enter the job market.”

More information

During the last academic year, pupils from 32 schools were offered placements with over 1,400 businesses across the county providing valuable hands-on workplace experience.

The placements allow students to gain a better understanding of East Sussex businesses and hear what employers expect of their staff, as well as providing them with the opportunity to get information directly from businesses and learn about career pathways.

Employers from a wide variety of business sectors offered placements to students this year including manufacturing, construction, engineering, catering, health care, teaching, retail and tourism.

There are opportunities available for businesses in East Sussex who would like to offer work experience placements to students during the current academic year.

Businesses can find out more by emailing the Work Experience Team.