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A Study from Speakers For Schools Reveals the Thriving Nature of Virtual Work Experience

by on June 7, 2021 in Uncategorized

Since the pandemic kicked off last year, many people have experienced major changes in their work and education. The restrictions placed on physical contact and travelling has inhibited social interaction and led to several missed opportunities as regards schooling. #

Speakers For Schools recently conducted a study to determine the job placements that got popular following the pandemic. The company was founded by Robert Peston in 2010, and ever since they have been facilitating work experience programmes for young students so they can learn from top-notch employers from all over the country. 

With the many limits placed on physical interactions, people are adopting the concept known as ‘virtual work experience’ to bridge that gap. While the concept is not a new one, the pandemic made it grow to be a popular opinion for students looking to gain real-world experience in their respective fields of study.

Before the pandemic, both companies and students did not consider virtual work experience to be a viable option. However, organisations are already normalising online working experience for their employees, so they can use this avenue to successfully pass the torch to prospects that are new school leavers.

The Growing Popularity of Virtual Work Experience

Between April 2020 – March 2021, UK-wide work experience placements increased by 5,890 places with the majority of them (71%)  being provided as virtual work experience placements.

The areas with the largest number of job placements include England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In these areas, the job roles are predominantly offered with virtual work experience. 

These highlighted job opportunities are distributed across several sectors, with the construction industry taking the lead over the last year since many of their activities were not restricted by the lockdown. 

The healthcare sector likewise has seen a surge in the number of available placements. Research points out that medical students have the highest graduate employment rate (99.3%). Besides, the sector could use every help it got from the school leavers looking for school work experience in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus.

Some sectors like retail and marketing, however, have seen only minimal adjustments to the trend of online work placements. While 250 new placements were virtually secured in the retail industry, that of the marketing industry only increased by 10. This is probably because of the need for constant collaboration on projects in such sectors which can be challenging to achieve virtually.

Some popular companies are major contributors to the increases of placements with remote working experience. A good example of this is Spotify who increased its hiring rate by over 4,000%. 

The younger demographic in locations like Northern Ireland are typically limited from their dream placements in Britain. Although they are based in London, Spotify offers placements to young people all over the UK as virtual work experience. Other big names that increased their number of placements in the last year include Cisco and Severn Trent Water. 

Benefits of Virtual Work Experience

For one, school leavers can gain a link to the professional realm in their respective fields by taking on placements with online work experience such as the ones completed by Speakers For Schools during the pandemic.

This is especially true for students from disadvantaged locations who may miss out on career opportunities or further education due to restrictions. Businesses also miss out on talents due to these same limits caused by location. While some organisations go through the hassle of providing accommodation for top prospects travelling great distances, it is not common because of the high expense it incurs on the company.

 Online work experience, on the other hand, is a cost-effective resolution to the concern of hiring and outsourcing talent from different locations. Virtual work experience also challenges young people to stay focused on their jobs from home. This can be tough given the many distractions that can arise with remote working. 

Besides, it also motivates global organisations to better personalize their onboarding experiences. Internship opportunities with virtual work experience also give both students and employers to check their compatibility. That way, both parties have a more realistic view of the job market. 

Students looking for work experience are usually enthusiastic to demonstrate their value to companies without expecting compensation immediately. With the virtual experience introduced to the arrangement, organisations can benefit from the intern’s contributions without any cost. Although they are not mandated, some businesses provide their online interns with vouchers. 


Young people need work experience to gain insight into the professional world, improve their confidence and add quality to their CV. However, the pandemic brought along some restrictions that made it increasingly difficult for school leavers to achieve this. Virtual work experience is a concept that has been around for a while but recently exploded as a trend. 

The study by Speakers for School shows that students can better plan for their future with the availability of placements with virtual experience, regardless of the limits in present-day society.

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