Top Ten Tales

It happened to us…

We asked ten young people, now in their twenties, to tell us about their experiences of starting work. Some of them did work experience in very difficult circumstances – because of the nature of the jobs – but coped extremely well, especially as most of them admitted that they found health and safety dull and boring!

General Work Experience

What was your first experience of work?
Most of us had Saturday jobs and we all did a work experience placement at school.

How old were you when you first did paid work?
Some of us started at 12-14 with a paper round, some of us didn’t start until a part-time job at 16.

What hours did you work when you started?
It depended on the job. Half of us worked 8-12 hours, the rest 14-16 hours a week.

Were you given any training?
Mostly on the job training. How to use the till, where to stack things on the shelf – we learnt as we went along. Only one of us had any ‘proper’ training!

Did any of you have an accident in your early jobs?
I had an accident when I worked in a warehouse. I was moving pallets, knocked my leg and chipped my shin bone.

School Work Experience

What type of placement did you have?
Most of us worked in offices, banks, insurance companies, solicitors. Some were in retail, others in primary schools. One of us worked in a hospital.

How did you find your placements?
The school found most of them for us but we had a choice about the type of work we wanted. We could suggest companies to the school if we had contacts through our parents or friends.

Were you told about health and safety by your school or on your placement?
Most of us had some briefing in school but it was quite variable. None of us were given anything in writing at work but we were told some things such as where the fire escape was.

Did you have a supervisor during your placement?
Some of us had one supervisor for the whole time, others worked with different people at different times. Most of us had a teacher visit us while we were working and we knew who to contact at school if there was a problem.

Did any of you have an accident?
No.

College Work Experience

Why did you do work experience from college/university?
It was part of the course and directly related to the careers we wanted to follow.

What kind of work did you do?
We were treated like other employees, doing the same jobs as full-time workers.

How long did the placement last?
This varied with the course. In some cases it was a couple of weeks whereas a university student on a sandwich course spent a whole year in work.

Were you paid for your work?
The short placements were unpaid but we did get paid if we were on longer placements.

Were you told about health and safety by your college or university on your placement?
Very few of us were told about health and safety by the college. Some of us were given verbal instructions by employers. One of us was given a health and safety folder when we arrived.

Did you have a supervisor during your placement?
All except one of us, however very few of us had visits from the college / university.

Did any of you have an accident?
Yes. One of us suffered cuts and then suffered stress and upset because of the way she was treated.

Starting Paid Work

What were your first full-time paid jobs?
One of us worked in a poultry farm, others in offices, public relations and marketing. None of us are working in the same type of work now as our first job.

How did you get your first job?
Most of us were employed in companies where we had placements. Some of us went to an agency and some to jobs adverts and interviews.

How did you feel about your interview?
Some were terrified, some very nervous and a few only a little nervous.

How did you prepare for an interview?
We talked to friends and relatives, with college tutors and the careers service. Some of us had the opportunity for a mock interview.

First Day Feelings

How did you feel on the first day?

“I was not too nervous as I knew people from the work experience”

“I was very nervous about travel as well as the job… I had a head full of information soon forgotten”

“I felt excited”

“I felt like a spare part. I did not know what I was doing or expected to do”

“I felt nervous, worried, overwhelmed”

“I was a bit nervous”

“I was shocked at how unprepared they were. I had nothing to do and nowhere to do it”

“It was made easier because I knew lots of other people there”

Health & Safety Knowledge

What did you know about health and safety legislation?
We had heard of various regulations but didn’t know much about their detailed content. We now know more about them.