Stroud: Work Experience Charter Launched

A new Skills and Work Experience Charter has been launched to help the thousands of youngsters who head to businesses and organisations in Stroud every year, to gain some valuable experience.

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The charter is the idea of Stroud District Council as part of their commitment to improve employment prospects for young people.

Councillor Geoff Wheeler, leader of Stroud District Council said: ''We've all heard stories about pupils spending their placements making tea or photocopying, hence our aim is to ensure that young people undertaking work experience benefit from genuine, worthwhile experiences that prepare them for the world of work. Hopefully they will finish their placements better informed about the skills employers need and with more knowledge to make decisions about their future careers. Applying to be assessed for this charter mark shows that schools and businesses are serious about helping the workforce of the future.''

Seven companies and two schools took part in a pilot programme in advance of the launch of the scheme this week. Skills for Stroud is now open to any businesses and schools who wish to apply.

Pat Sparkes, Head of Human Resources from Calcot Hotels said that having their work experience programme assessed by SDC was invaluable. ''Initially we had a process in place but as we opened our programme up to more students we needed to make it much more structured.So it was good to have a set of criteria to measure it against. We discovered that our programme was up to scratch but we were also glad to receive some pointers to improve it even further.''

Trained SDC staff assess schools and businesses using criteria derived from national guidelines developed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Association of Colleges. Those who don't achieve the standard are provided with help and guidance so they can reapply.

Councillor Wheeler added: ''The pilot scheme has already been a tremendous success. With businesses as varied as engineering, telecommunications, a vet's practice, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a hotel, and two schools showing a very high level of commitment to providing serious work experience opportunities for students, the future looks extremely promising. We do not charge organisations for assessment under the charter as it is one of our initiatives to improve employment opportunities in our district. Aside from benefiting students, high quality work experience programmes are also an excellent way for businesses to encourage students to become staff and apprentices of the future.''

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