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Jon Kennard

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Insight: Work experience seen as key to securing employment

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Only half of students are gaining the work experience they need to land a good job at the end of their degree due to 'a lack of financial support and personal connections' according to a new study released today.

The research of over 2,000 sixth formers and university students, commissioned by Lloyds Banking Group and carried out by ICM, shows that although young people understand the value of work experience as well as a University degree, the current climate means a range of factors beyond their control are damaging their employability:
  • 70% of students acknowledge that prospective employers will be most impressed if they can demonstrate relevant work experience
  • But 34% of students think a lack of the right personal connections means they won’t get the job they want
  • While 29% haven’t got enough money to do unpaid work experience
  • So only 48% of students have undertaken relevant work experience or holiday internships
The Lloyds Scholars Programme, which is designed to support and encourage students from below average income families to study at leading universities, will help students address these needs and get them fit for the world of work by providing them with a competitive employable edge. The first intake of students, who went through a challenging assessment centre and had to meet a number of criteria to be accepted onto the programme, takes place today with students from the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield. 
Matt Young, Group Corporate Affairs Director, commented: "The number of applications received for this year's pilot intake was very high and the calibre of those applying was exceptional. I congratulate the students who were selected as our inaugural Lloyds Scholars, they have already demonstrated huge ability and potential which we will help harness and develop further throughout the course of their studies." 
Just starting its pilot year, the scheme is designed to help students manage the cost of University and help ensure young people’s academic qualifications are enhanced by work experience and the skills that lead to a career by providing financial support, mentoring and volunteering opportunities. Unlike many established bursary programmes, students are not bound to join the Group once their studies have completed.
Welcoming the programme, Liam Burns, President, National Union of Students (NUS) said: "This is truly a worthwhile initiative that provides a firm platform for widening participation to higher education for less well off families. We are particularly pleased that the scheme seeks to deepen participation through volunteering at university, ensuring that students not only receive the appropriate support through their mentoring scheme but are being positively encouraged to further develop themselves during their free-time with highly commendable initiatives all of which are designed to make students stand out from the crowd." 
Underscoring NUS' view, the Confederation of British (CBI) Director Education & Skills, Susan Anderson said: "CBI firmly believes work placements offer important opportunities for students by helping them to develop a range of vital employability skills that sets them apart in the labour market. Students on the Lloyds Scholars programme will benefit greatly from this opportunity by developing the business skills they require while having access to financial support to help them complete their studies’.

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard
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