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Inspiration, not coffee runs, on the agenda for new national work experience program

Melinda Oliver /

Hosting young work experience students can be a challenge for time-poor business owners, however, a new national campaign launched today is designed to make it simple.

Called Work Inspiration, the employer-led campaign offers information, advice and case studies to businesses to make it easier to have young people in the workplace.

The campaign has been created as a partnership between the Foundation for Young Australians, The Smith Family and NAB.

FYA chief executive officer Jan Owen told SmartCompany this morning that Work Inspiration is work experience “reinvented”.

She says the program is an adaption of a successful UK initiative, which was launched by British Telecom around five years ago.

“It is a three-step program, that is a clear, well organised and an effective process that engages people from all levels of the company,” she says.

Owen says Work Inspiration has run 14 pilot programs with 20 businesses nationally to test the system, including big firms such as McDonald’s.

She says the idea is not to prepare young people for certain jobs, as the roles available are constantly evolving, but rather to open their eyes to how business works and to see the many facets of opportunity available.

“The companies can benefit from having young people in too”, Owen says.

Owen hopes businesses across the country will sign up to Work Inspiration and pledge to host students in their workplaces. The aim is to have 20,000 Australian students go through the program in the next two years.

If SMEs feel they are too busy to host students, Owen says that they shouldn’t be concerned.

“What’s great is this makes it simple and straightforward. They will have to nominate a person to implement it.”

NAB general manager corporate responsibility Paula Benson said in a statement that work experience has many “tangible benefits”, including “employee development and engagement, increased diversity and talent, improved business development, and more effective community engagement”.

Work Inspiration has launched a website, outlining the key steps to running a successful program, case studies, tutorial videos and contact details for assistance.

Practical advice, such as how to structure the day for a young student, is offered.

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