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Nine in 10 young people believe work experience should be mandatory

Research from the latest edition of the LifeSkills Youth Barometer* reveals that nine in 10 (87%) of 14-25 year olds believe it should be mandatory. Compulsory work experience for 14-16 year olds was removed two years ago.

According to the LifeSkills Youth Barometer over half (53%) expect it to be harder to find work in 6 months than today. Self-confidence came out as the top skill young people felt they lacked which would hold them back from finding employment with 45% choosing this. Understanding how a business operates was another popular choice, with nearly a quarter (24%) of young people stating this would be a barrier to employment. However, when asked what work experience gave them, it becomes clear that it has an importance part to play in preparing young people for work. Over half (51%) thought it improved their confidence and 32% said it helped them to understand the business they worked for.

These findings come as 14 teenagers from around the UK begin the Work Experience of a Lifetime having won a LifeSkills competition. Their prizes include work experience opportunities with the Facebook leadership team in California, the LifeSkills Ambassadors Karren Brady, Jameela Jamil and Thea Green and at ITN Productions. Their prizes are taking place during LifeSkills Work Week which is dedicated to promoting work experience and helping teachers connect with businesses across the UK.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive, Barclays Retail and Business Banking said: "This is a generation which is ambitious, wants to be successful when leaving school but recognises it will go into one of the most competitive job markets of recent times. Young people know they need to translate the skills they’ve learnt in school into those that are attractive to employers and want quality work experience to help them.

“These findings underline why we launched the LifeSkills programme and Work Week. To create thousands of new work experience opportunities this year alone at employers large and small across the UK while providing schools and young people with the resources they need to develop the skills to be successful in work. We all have a part to play in helping young people achieve their future potential.”

LifeSkills Ambassador, Karren Brady, said: “I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the work experiences I had early on in my career. They taught me what I was good at and the skills I needed to get ahead. It’s why I’m excited to be part of the Work Experience of a Lifetime competition. I hope the winner who joins me will be inspired by their experience and share their insight with their peers. I hope it will encourage more businesses to get involved in work experience through the LifeSkills programme and create opportunities to transform what young people go onto achieve.”

Chris James, aged 14 from Hove, has won a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Facebook Headquarters in California. Chris, who is in Year 9 at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove, will travel to California for an exclusive opportunity to shadow the Facebook team and learn at first hand the secrets to their success.

Chris said: “I’m just so excited to have been given this opportunity and get to meet the team at Facebook. I’ve always been interested in social media so to actually meet and learn from the team in California is a dream come true. I’m sure it is going to be an amazing experience, which I hope will help me in whatever I do in the future. My friends are so jealous; I can’t wait to share what I’ve learnt with them.”

LifeSkills, created with Barclays, was launched in March of this year. It is an education programme that aims by 2015 to equip one million young people aged 11-19 with the skills they need for work and connect them to work experience opportunities at Barclays and beyond. The resources will be delivered in school by teachers, in branch at sessions organised by Barclays employees or accessed directly by young people at

The interactive LifeSkills website has dedicated areas for young people, teachers and businesses. Once registered, free resources can be downloaded including top tips from the LifeSkills Ambassadors and guides to how to get the most from work experience. The non-branded lesson plans for teachers and resources for young people address three areas: Work Skills, People Skills and Money Skills.

Once a student completes the LifeSkills modules, schools will be able to unlock a new work experience matching portal. This will allow teachers to match pupils to local work experience opportunities in their area from Barclays and like-minded businesses. Business can also upload their placements via the new free matching service.

To find out more and register for information go to