Work Experience & Futureproof: how Opp Shef helps prepare young people for the world of work

As the school year draws to a close, the Opportunity Sheffield team has been reflecting on the positive impact of our Work Experience support programme in 2021-22.

After missing out on so many face to face opportunities throughout the height of Covid, we have been able to support schools across Sheffield to send 940 students out on traditional work experience placements this academic year.

This experience of the working world continues to be an invaluable one and a meaningful encounter for employers and students alike.

If we could hire them, we would, the best young person we have ever had on work experience

King Edwards VIII work experience employer

Alongside this, Opportunity Sheffield has been delivering Futureproof, our hybrid approach to work experience.

Futureproof sees employers set projects for groups of students to work on over the course of a week, with regular employer interaction and networking opportunities. Employers provide a real-world context for the task the students are undertaking and highlights the importance of transferable skills.

The week culminates in students presenting their final project outcome to the employer whose project they worked on, receiving feedback on their work. Opportunity Sheffield facilitated the delivery of 37 Futureproof projects this year, garnering a positive response from students, staff and employers involved.

Keep this going! I wish I’d had this opportunity when I was at school, it’s so fantastic you run this program!

HCD Architects

Opp Shef’s Futureproof projects with Forge Valley School and Parkwood Academy

Opportunity Sheffield’s employment support team had the opportunity to participate in the Futureproof Project with two fantastic groups of pupils at Forge Valley School and Parkwood Academy.

Our brief set to the pupils was to develop a short course that will support and reengage young people aged 18-24 to progress into work, based loosely on a real-life specification for a project previously commissioned by our team.

As an employer on the project, our responsibilities were to draft the brief, attend the short pre-arranged check-ins with the pupil groups to offer insight and support, and enjoy the presentations at the end of the week. The logistics of the programme were all coordinated for us, (and done very thoroughly), so required minimal additional time and resource.

The pupils were all very enthusiastic the projects, asked thoughtful questions, worked well together, and in the end produced brilliant ideas. This was a unique chance for our team to find out what interests young people and will be used to influence our commissioning in the future. It was also a positive way to give back some time to the community that will help future generations with their careers.

We will definitely be participating in the scheme again next year if given the opportunity, and would highly recommend the project to any other employers to join in too.