Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the main driver for offering work placements, according to research published this week.
Seven out of 10 companies said work placements were an effective investment in the local community and a way to "give something back", according to a survey of 600 HR managers by vocational awards organisation City & Guilds.
Four in 10 HR managers also viewed work experience as a "try before you buy" trial period to assess potential employees, and about a third (35%) said it was part of their company's training and recruitment policy. Reducing recruitment costs (22%) and tackling skills shortages (13%) were also cited as factors.
Judith Norrington, head of national policy development at City & Guilds, said UK businesses needed to realise the commercial advantages on offer.
"Work placements provide an ideal opportunity for employers to attract experienced adults or career changers into their industry," she said.
"As the number of young people entering the labour force diminishes by 60,000 each year, employers will need to tap into a broader range of workers of all ages and experience."
Two-thirds (64%) of participating employers said they offered work placements or secondments. Inadequate facilities (35%), time constraints (31%) and health and safety issues (26%) were cited as the main barriers by the employers who did not offer placements.
Employers in the publishing and media industry were the least likely to offer work experience, while public sector and government agencies were the most likely to, with almost all (89%) providing placements.