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January 4, 2013

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Health and safety discourages work-experience placements, says PM

Onerous health and safety regulations are partly responsible for discouraging businesses from offering work-experience placements to young people, David Cameron has told an audience of small-business leaders.

The prime minister gave the assessment yesterday (3 January) at a PM Direct event at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston. The event was staged to promote the Government’s Start-Up Loans scheme, aimed at providing entrepreneurs with the finance and support to launch their own business. 

During a Q&A session on the programme, Mr Cameron lamented that fewer companies were offering work-experience positions – a trend he described as “very, very bad news”.

He said: “We do have a potential problem here because a lot of kids aren’t getting the sort of work experience that you [the audience] used to get because of all the concerns about health and safety, and it’s all too difficult, and all the rest of it. So, if we’re not careful, there’s a danger that schools and businesses will separate even more than they are today.”

He continued: “We need to encourage businesses to offer that work experience; we need to simplify health and safety rules; we need to say to schools: ‘every school should have a plan for how you are going to teach children about enterprise and business’.”

IOSH, which has worked with Young Enterprise to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in business and to enjoy healthy careers, disagreed with the assertion that health and safety rules are too burdensome in relation to work experience.

Focusing on how a placement can improve young people’s awareness of dangers in the workplace, the Institution’s head of policy and public affairs, Richard Jones, said: “Work experience helps foster people’s risk awareness and education, preparing our UK workforce of the future for sustainable and productive careers. €

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Alan
Alan
9 years ago

You will not hear the PM point out the number of fatals and serious injuries as Richard Jones did. It is ‘very, very bad news’ to hear such comments from the PM where he once again is dismissive of health and safety as a concern. Will he be concerned when a young person is seriously injured on work experience? Probaly not.

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
9 years ago

Any ‘responsible’ employer will know, the young people on Work Experience are NOT CHEAP LABOUR!! The programme is about the employer actually giving – not taking!! They may not take the WE kids on afterwards, but they’ll have shown them what work is like before they look for a job. As for H&S, I wouldn’t send a WE into a confined space or up a TV mast, but after doing a young persons R/A & briefing the experienced person assigned to looking after them i’d easy let them work under supervision.

Andrew
Andrew
9 years ago

Alternatively the H&S manager could have got off his overly protected buttocks and given the lad a workplace induction; shown him the risks, introduced him to the PPE and briefed a mentor. Sounds like you have the kind of H&S Manager so beloved by the Daily Wail.

Anthony
Anthony
9 years ago

I am the H&S adviser at a inner City College. We have a whole department concerned in finding placements in businesses both large and small. They do not appear to have any problems in finding placements for the many students in the scheme.
May I ask where does the leader of our Country get his information from?
Could it be the infamous, man down the pub; again

Betlilli
Betlilli
9 years ago

In my company, the biggest barrier to work experience is not H&S but child protection legislation & the concern that staff have to be CRB checked. The Connexions service at my son’s school only places WE kids into other educational establishments as they don’t have the time or resources to forge relationships with industry or commerce. Stop blaming H&S for poor organisation!

Bill
Bill
9 years ago

Having actively participated in youth employment programmes, since 1976; using my own money; I think boy Cameron spoke quite erroneously, at Lancaster Poly.
H&S regulation has had no negative impact on work experience schemes – excepting for giving ‘jobsworths’ an excuse for disengagement. What has had adverse effect is the inability of parents and schools to prepare youngsters for real life – turning up on time, being able to use their cocum and the 3 ‘R’s. Not encouraging to employers!

Darryl
Darryl
9 years ago

I not usually one to automatically agree with DC, but on this isue I do believe he is correct. An employees son wanted work experience helping the maintenance staff, the lad hoped to be an electrician, we took him on for two weeks experience. The H&S manager banned him from the warehouse, prevented him being on site without an escort, eventually the poor lad was reduced to photocopying.

The fear of litigation / prosecution, is preventing the youth getting the experience of the workplace.

Ed
Ed
9 years ago

Yet again the Government do not understand the legislation. It’s all about interpretation and getting the right advice from H&S advisors who know their education. Good H&S in enabling not disabling.

G
G
9 years ago

As EHS Manager at Cab Automotive Limited (automotive interiors company), I would comment that we continue to actively promote work experience placements within local schools, identifying these young people need the exposure to manufacturing environments, they are our future. Whilst, we ensure that every consideration is given in respect of Health and Safety assessments for these young persons, the issue we have faced is more one of discipline, time and attendance. Schools need to address this!

Gary
Gary
9 years ago

Glenda, I agree with your sentiments re disipline, but schools are not the disciplinary force here. Parents are, and I am sure you are well aware it is the parents who need to have your RA with regards to their WE? How are you anyhow?

Jkirby
Jkirby
9 years ago

The reason for the drop in work experience (WE) placements is largely due to Mr Gove removing the statutory requirement for schools to provide WE and the subsequent removal of all funding for such placements. Also local companies are tightening belts and feel it is wrong to dsimiiss satff and then take on a WE student. Nothing to do with H&S!

Joe
Joe
9 years ago

One taboo is that the schools are not able to tackle behaviour issues fully, schools get grants to placate social disorder issues and “encourage” disruptive youths but this just means work experience candidates are “socially disabled” and are more hastle than worth. 20%ish of candidates I’ve dealt with left early or were discharged because they wilfully disobeyed H&S SSWs or processes with big risks. Companies can’t always justify the WE candidate’s lack of responsibility and “numb” attitude.

John
John
9 years ago

Spot on, We activily take 15 – 20 WE students per year, from all corners of the country, as we are a pretty high profile company, some have gone on to eventually work for us after finishing at uni, we put a lot of effort in as we feel it leaves a lasting impression on the student, they are actively involved, however my other half works for a local academy and I have offered several placements to them, sadly they are not interested due to the red tape involved at their end.

Les
Les
9 years ago

I agree with most posts. Nothing to do with H&S but with lack of work. If a company has plenty of forward work it will foster WE and apprenticeships as a matter of future survival. All political parties fail to foster business which creates wealth (eg: engineering). What use is a country where the Goverment wants us all to be either porters or maids in hotels, shelf stackers in supermarkets or metal thieves in order to survive – and that’s all we will soon have left.

Nochinquinn
Nochinquinn
9 years ago

If Cameron had his way our kids would be back up chimneys and down the few pits we have left. Typical tory propaganda designed to undermine H&S at work. And what works experience did Cameron enjoy? Bagman to failed chancellor Lamont!

Paul
Paul
9 years ago

Well said Ed. If a company has good H&S in place, but has never had work experience young people(YP) before, it only takes a Risk Assessment for each task/area that the YP will do/be to be compliant. Not really an onerous/costly task! What next, stopping apprenticeships? Remember, these start at 16 (technically still a YP) then where will the skills come from to reinstate the country’s manufacturing industry and therefore, financial status? DC should change tact before he does more damage!

Philip
Philip
9 years ago

Mr Cameron has just highlighted how little Health and Safety knowledge he possesses. His last comment is typical of any politician saying what should be done , but not offering any suggestions. I wonder how he would feel if he had to phone an employees family to inform them their son or daughter had been seriously injured or killed as a result of an accident at work. Richard Jones comments about the average numbers of young people injured or killed highlights the importance of health and safety.

Rkb
Rkb
9 years ago

I don’t think it is just businessses that are showing a lack of enthusiasm for work experience. As a school governor, I know that we have discontinued it. One factor was difficulty in finding suitable placements for all pupils (about 200 in a typical high school) in year 10. Risk assessments and other paperwork were far more time consuming for teachers than for industry, because it had to be done individually for each placement. Even if only 10 minutes each, it amounts to several days’ work.

Rob
Rob
9 years ago

I’m sorry but this is just one more example of DC talking with very little knowledge of what he is saying. HS has become the whipping boy – we can be blamed for all the country’s woes now. I’m suprised he and the others haven’t blamed H&S for causing the banking crisis too!!!!!

This is what happens when we have politicians who have never had a proper job (outside politics) and have certainly never run a small business. Open gob and soupt idealogical rubbish.

Wendy
Wendy
9 years ago

I have read with interest what our Prime Minister has said and agree with most of the responses from like minded H&S qualified persons, that DC really doesn’t understand or is clearly misinterpreting the legislation that is out there. As R J, said: “Work experience helps foster people’s risk awareness and education”. The company l work for facilitates several YP during each year and providing the RA’s are in place and communication with school & parents takes place WE should be encouraged.