Work experience pays dividends, study finds

A longitudinal study which investigated the link between student work experience, both paid and unpaid, and success after higher education has found that ‘all types of work increase the chances of successful outcomes’.


The study, named ‘Futuretrack’, was undertaken by researchers at the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick and surveyed 130,000 students that applied to higher education in the UK in 2005-06. From the results the researchers discovered that ‘students who had undertaken more structured work-based learning as well as paid work tended to have the most positive outcomes. The study also found that students who did not undertake work of any kind had the least positive outcomes from higher education, positive outcomes being degree grade, transition into the labour market, wage level and self-confidence.

Roughly 25% of students in the study undertook paid work experience, with women more likely than men to undertake paid work. The study also suggests that ‘work-based learning’, such as placements, combined with paid work was associated with the most ‘positive labour market outcomes’.

The study also points out that ‘further factors’ such as work experience prior to starting university are likely to play a role in the relationship between ‘non-standard qualifications’ and working in a graduate job.


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