Leading Employers join S4S Symposium on Work Experience

12 May 2017

S4SNextGen.org has launched and is working with leading organisations on how they can better open up their doors to state school students for Work Experience placements. Last week we had the chance to bring together key employers for a chance to share best-practice and how-to.



As part of Speakers for Schools’ ongoing commitment to facilitate opportunities between leading organisations and secondary state schools, last week saw the hosting of an inaugural S4SNextGen Employers Symposium.


In conjunction with the launch of the charity’s new work experience programme, S4SNextGen.org, Speakers for Schools took the opportunity to invite an array of leading employers to a morning of best practice. The event included case study sessions from Pearson UK, M&G Investments and Cisco Systems; Q&A sessions with recent a work experience student and new host manager; an expert panel including education professionals from Harris Federation Academies and Cambridge University and employers such as National Theatre; ending with breakout sessions on lessons to take home and a chance to hear what each employer was doing. Other employers participating ranged from the National Portrait Gallery to Engine Group and Rio Tinto. St

Key ideas and lessons shared…

  • Creating a programme for students so it combines activities with shadowing is a great way to make an engaging placement
  • Also recommended was using a project for students that will be used by the business so they are doing ‘real work’
  • ‘+1 Strategy’: Asking employees to match their ‘friends and family’ hosting requests with a company-organised placement
  • Condensing resources by bringing in groups of students instead of one at a time
  • Year 10s being more open-minded and earlier in their decision-making than older students so they are an ideal target audience for work experience

Questions businesses discussed… 

  • Making business case to colleagues and creating ‘buy-in’ – how have others done it?
  • Tracking outcomes – what happens after the placement?
  • Widening reach beyond a London HQ or potentially hosting a residential – how best to organise this?
  • How best to assess student applications, especially in high-volumes?


Employers also commented a benefit to working with the charity on this critical element of their CSR and HR plans was the ability to hear from diverse employers and compare ideas, and we look forward to embedding this into our programme so employers can use what is already working well for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

“Many thanks for a great session today. I found it very valuable to hear from other people on the way they approach work experience in their organisations.”

Rachel Butler, Community and Communications Lead, Inclusion, Bank of England


“A really enjoyable day where I came away knowing a lot more than I did before I walked in!”

Symposium Attendee


“An excellent and well organised opportunity to bring together employers and education practitioners to share ideas and best practice. I found the day extremely informative and valuable.”

Dr Caroline Burt, Admissions Tutor, Pembroke College Cambridge

Thanks again to our host Pearson UK,  all of our participants and their commitment to helping more state school students access experiences with top organisations to help give them a leg-up for their futures!

Want to know more about how your company or organisation can get involved?

S4SNextGen is a free programme to help support better links between top employers and state schools to connect their students with invaluable opportunities such as work experience. If you are a Speaker or HR/CSR professional interested in further engaging with state school students, please get in touch with us for more information. 

Also be sure to visit www.S4Snextgen.org


Why have we launched S4SNextGen for our speaker’s organisations and top employers? Watch our short video to find out.