According to Speakers for Schools, scaling up the number of work experience placements delivered virtually can meet the government’s objective of spreading opportunity more fairly. The social mobility charity is calling on the government to include work experience in its “Levelling Up Agenda” and asks employers to step forward and commit to delivering more opportunities.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw in-person work experience significantly reduce, necessitating a rapid migration to virtual opportunities. The move to online placements caused numbers to skyrocket. The charity offered 56,000 virtual placements alone in the academic year of 2020/21, much higher than ever possible when delivered in-person before the pandemic.

Speakers for Schools is now calling on businesses and government to increase the roll-out of virtual work placements across the UK as a way of reaching a broader pool of young people with diverse social-economic backgrounds.

Traditionally, young people often rely on the networks of parents or family members to access work placement opportunities, and they are often concentrated in major cities. However, virtual placements remove geographical barriers, meaning young people in rural or disadvantaged parts of the UK can engage with leading employers based anywhere.

The top three regions of the UK which have seen the biggest uptick in work experience placements between 2019/20 and 2020/21 are the West of England, followed by the North West and East of England. However, Speakers for Schools wants to see young people from all regions in England have increased access to employers like Spotify, the Bank of England, British Airways and the NHS.

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