HR Hartley: Lessons to be learned from work experience

September brings with it one plus point for the hard-pressed HR director: a cut in the number of youngsters on shirk – sorry – work experience.

We’ve had dozens of them passing through the company since the work experience season kicked off in May, and each one seems to have thrown up some sort of issue which has landed in an HR in-tray.

These range from the use of computer equipment and the height of chairs, to whether we feed the wretches, and what sort of work they should be let loose on. And of course there’s the security issue.

I told the chief executive, in a throwaway line, that we could have Al Qaeda’s youth wing on the premises. “Not the sort of quip I find appropriate, HR,” he said. “I think you must be spending too much time reading the Daily Mail.

“It’s good for our image to be seen helping youngsters make their way in the world. It shows we are a modern, caring company. We were all young once, you know. Besides, I thought you ran a tight ship on this sort of thing?”

“Rest assured, we do,” I told him.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t drop in on the work experience sub-committee meeting that I’ve convened for next week which, I fear, will turn into a moan-fest. To focus attendees’ minds, I had given it the theme ‘Work experience – what’s in it for us?’. But, after my tte–tte with the chief executive, I think it will now be themed ‘Work experience – what can we learn from its success?’.

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