Press release

New research reveals true benefits of work experience

Young people taking part in a Government-backed work experience placement are more likely to get off benefits and into work.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Young people taking part in a Government-backed work experience placement are more likely to get off benefits and into work, according to research published today.

The first 3,490 young people who took part in the Government placements were 16% more likely to be off benefits 21 weeks after starting than those in a similar group who did not take part.

The findings are revealed in an early impact analysis of voluntary work experience placements published by the Department for Work and Pensions today.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

These early figures show our voluntary work experience scheme is making a big difference to the prospects of our young people, helping them get off benefits and into work.

Work experience gives young people vital skills they will need to get a job and a chance to shine in front of a potential employer. Those who criticised the scheme have got it badly wrong.

Researchers looked at what happened to young people who started a work experience placement between January and May 2011. The results, which have been reviewed by independent experts, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, were compared to a group of similar individuals who did not start a placement.

Work experience placements lasting up to eight-weeks are available to 16 to 24-year-olds on Jobseekers Allowance. The programme aims to give young jobseekers experience in the workplace, providing them with the vital practical skills and experience that will make a real difference to their prospects of finding a job. Hundreds of companies are providing placements across Great Britain.

Between January and November 2011, 34,200 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance undertook a work experience placement. Another 250,000 places were announced over the next three years as part of the Youth Contract. This will ensure a place is available to every eligible 18 to 24 year old that wants one.

Notes to Editors

  1. Independent experts, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), performed a brief peer review of the analysis, focusing in particular on the methodology. NIESR concluded that the methodology was sound, and that the key findings and conclusions - in particular the finding that work experience had a significant impact reducing benefit receipt and increasing employment for participants, compared to otherwise comparable non-recipients - appeared robust. They emphasised that the analysis was preliminary, and made a number of recommendations for future work to develop and extend the analysis. NIESR’s review was confined to the methodology; NIESR did not have access to the actual data used and did not attempt to replicate the results.
  2. Analysts compared 3,490 19 to 24-year-olds who took part in work experience with a group of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants from the same age group with similar characteristics, employment and benefit histories who did not take up the placement.
  3. Eighteen year olds were excluded from the main analysis because they had not built up enough benefit history to select comparable individuals. However, when testing the figures, inclusion of this group did not affect the results.
  4. The progress of the two groups was measured up to 21 weeks, as this was the period for which data was available to track them. The full report is available at
  5. In this report benefits are classed as JSA, IB, IS, ESA and Training Allowance.
  6. An extra 250,000 work experience placements will be made available over the next three years as part of the £1 billion Youth Contract launched on April 2, 2012. There will be 100,000 places available per year until 2015 ensuring a place is available to all eligible 18-24 year olds that want one.
  7. Taking part in work experience is voluntary. Participants continue to claim Jobseekers Allowance during the placement, although sanctions can apply for gross misconduct.
Published 17 April 2012