Employers and industry bodies regularly highlight the importance of work readiness in young people and the fact that they find young recruits lacking in experience and awareness of workplace skills.
But with the reduction in the number of young people engaging in work experience and/or having a “Saturday job” it is hardly surprising as they are not getting the opportunity to engage in a work environment early on.
Experiences gained early in a young person’s exposure to work are incredibly important in shaping their future skills. To celebrate National Careers Week, we’ve asked members of the CASCAID team about their early experiences of work and how those experiences have influenced their careers.
We are starting with Annette Wade, our Interim Chief Executive.
“My first experience of work was a work placement at the local tourist information centre when I was 15. It was a fairly scary prospect at the time because it was the first time I had had to get anywhere independently and I was also pretty shy at that age so talking to customers was a daunting idea. However, it did have a massive influence on me. I quickly discovered that I could do things on my own when I put my mind to it and I actually enjoyed talking to customers, working out what they needed and giving them information on different products and services.
This experience made me want to get even more experience of working with different people, so a year later I started working in a small supermarket at weekends. This certainly gave me a huge amount of experience of dealing with customers. I can still relate back to the skills I learnt then including listening, empathising and finding the best solution when a customer needs help. These are skills I’ve used virtually every day throughout my career.
I also had some pretty unglamorous tasks in that job including removing every tin of beans and packet of cereals from the shelves once a month and scrubbing the shelves clean. At the time I hated it but it taught me how important product presentation was. As I went on to build a career in marketing, this early experience was a constant reminder that it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you do not pay attention to detail in how you present and communicate it.
My first full-time job was at a professional sports club where my marketing/PR related job included a range of weird and wonderful tasks. Most importantly it taught me that you do what is necessary to get the job done and the right outcome regardless of whether it’s within your remit or not. Surprising and challenging experiences like getting 11th hour calls to deliver presentations have never phased me since the time I had a furry mascot outfit put on my desk and was told that the character needed to perform a dance to an S Club 7 song pitch side in half an hour!
In my opinion, education is incredibly important; however early experience of work is just as crucial. When I’m shortlisting CVs for a role, I look at all of the work experience that an applicant has had. I believe that there is benefit in all previous experiences even if it isn’t 100% relevant to the role. Regardless of the actual role/s that the applicant has done previously, the activity that they have engaged in, the effort that they have put in and the learning experiences that they have been exposed to will help to shape them and their performance at work going forward.”
Other members of the CASCAID Team will be sharing their early work experiences and what they learnt from them throughout this week.
Happy National Careers Week!