Students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit the most from work experience placements, but are least able to access them.
A hidden weakness in Australia’s new career development strategy is that low socio-economic status (SES) students have limited access to work experience while at secondary school. Currently, socioeconomic status is a strong predictor of the post-compulsory school destinations undertaken by young Australians. Students’ participation in work experience forms part of a broader policy framework that aims improve social mobility and autonomy by providing equal and highly effective career guidance to young people. However, recent research leads to the conclusion that while low SES students draw the most value from work experience placements, in practice, they are least able to access them.