Work experience 'a waste of time'
Students on work experience placements should not be made to make tea and coffee or carry out menial tasks like photocopying, the House of Commons heard today.
Children in the Youth Parliament said placements were often poorly structured and a waste of time, as they called for the Government to change the national curriculum so that all students were offered at least one week's work experience in a job of their choice.
Student Minhazul Abedin said often placements did not fulfil expectations.
He said: " A friend once described their work experience to me - a 'tea-pouring, paper-pushing, 'can I help you, sir?, ideal', that seems to be a re-occurring situation to those who want that extra step in life.
"Ninety-five percent of us have work experience but the majority of this is poorly structured, not helped by the fact that our stereotypes are constantly fulfilled - a waste of time."
And Ruairi Kennedy, from Northern Ireland, said: " We all know young people in our local areas whose work placements in the past have involved making tea, photocopying and shadowing, rather than the high quality work experience that they deserve."
Ben Rowden, from Middlesbrough, told 300 members of the Youth Parliament who gathered in the Commons that he "didn't fancy making tea and coffee for a whole week".
But Stacey Atim Uma, from Wolverhampton, said many students needed to "pull their socks up" and go and find work experience for themselves.
She said: " Of course schools still need to pull their socks up but students need to pull their socks up, put their shoes on and walk out and get those opportunities for themselves.
"I think we shouldn't give students work experience on a platter because at the end of the day it is just going to be another thing that you need to do to get in to university and get a job. Then we are going to need something else to get in to uni and get a job."
Matthew Otubu, from Newcastle, described today's motion, which said every student can access work experience for one week in an area of their choice, as being insufficient.
He said: "This policy refers to 13 to 18-year-olds - what about the 11-year-old girl and 12-year old boy in your constituencies. It refers to a one week placement - one week, five days, making tea and coffee for a boss who doesn't care."
The motion to introduce a mandatory week's work experience was not passed. Instead, members of the Youth Parliament voted for a motion to "radically" overhaul the national curriculum to include better sex education and lessons about cultural awareness, community cohesion and personal financial management.
That motion only related to the Youth Parliament in England. In a separate ballot covering the whole of the United Kingdom, members of the Youth Parliament voted to extend the right to vote in all public elections to 16 and 17-year-olds.