I didn't do work experience when I was at school but I met it from the other end and it was a flipping nuisance. My MD 'gave' me the WE student because he wanted his company to have a good standing in the community. The student couldn't go and work in the factory because no experience/no qualifications/no skills/no time for somebody to teach him how to use highly dangerous cutting equipment. It was a month's training for a new employee; they couldn't do anything useful in a week. They gave him to me, because hey, Free Range Hippy Chick does all that computer work, and school kids all know about computers, right?
So thanks, the auditors are coming in ten days, I'm trying to complete the year end, and I've got to babysit. I have no idea what the MD thought I was going to give this child to do. Possibly he did know about computers; he knew nothing whatsoever about double entry book-keeping, financial management, corporation tax or company law. Most of my work was confidential, so even if I could have said 'I need a spreadsheet to do this' - and you know, year end, experienced accountant, already constructed my spreadsheets - I couldn't have given him any data to put in it. I needed a day to do the payroll - I can just imagine how it would have gone down with the workforce if I'd given him the data input of that. The poor puppy ended up with a week of mostly photocopying and filing and even then I kept snatching back things that were sensitive and confidential. I managed one day of doing the Health and Safety Audit and letting him do (under my eye) the bits that didn't require specialist knowledge, but... I think he input a batch of purchase invoices, but somebody had to code them for him.
Both the Elder and the Younger Chick have done work experience but it was a real struggle to find anywhere to take them. The Elder Chick also did 'Executive Shadowing'. I don't think we'll be able to find a placement for the Younger Chick. The school/college doesn't find places - you have to do it yourself - and you're not supposed to go to Mum or Dad's company. Well, we couldn't do that anyway: DH works for a government department, all confidential data, and I'm self employed. But at the last parents' night, school staff were admitting that the work experience thing is falling through now because so many companies have paid off so many staff that they can't afford to carry a passenger, even an unpaid passenger, even only for a week. If you've got the student in your office, it means that a paid member of staff is basically on nursery duties and not getting on with their own work.
The other issue is the health and safety and the insurance. There's most of a day's induction in most workplaces - where are the fire exits, do you know the difference between red fire extinguishers and black ones, safe lifting, all the rest - and some business insurers are insisting that students don't count as 'visitors' but as staff, and therefore have to go through all that if the company insurance is to cover them. Oh, and the people dealing with the student are supposed to have CRB checks. (Criminal Records Bureau - protection of children and vulnerable adults. The checks can take up to a month to come through, they have to be renewed, and they aren't free.) More and more companies are simply saying that however valuable work experience may be to the student, it's not worth the time and money to the employers.