Work experience creates a plethora of potential problems for trade unions and young workers. Left unchecked, the work experience element of youth unemployment policies could result in the exploitation of young people and job losses for union members. The TUC and affiliated unions are firmly against exploitative workfare, and continue to actively campaign against programmes which seek to punish unemployed people through mandatory unpaid work.
High quality, structured work experience which includes a substantial element of structured learning, with trade union involvement is the most effective way to ensure that young people are not exploited and that they receive a learning experience which enables them to develop the skills they need to gain secure employment. Good quality work experience placements must be combined with a substantial training based element, which helps a young person develop relevant skills.
Union reps or officers may find that their employer wishes to negotiate a work experience programme, or they may wish to approach their employer to provide young unemployed people in their area with a good quality work experience placement giving them an opportunity to get into employment.
This guidance aims to ensure work experience schemes are high quality and consistent with TUC principles.
Read the TUC's guidance on work experience.