Information on providing work experiences for young people

The chemistry-using workforce is a significant contributor to the UK economy, the exchequer and to employment.

The contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of chemistry-using professionals to UK GDP was estimated to be £87 billion in 2019.

As chemical science employers you have a crucial role to play in encouraging young people to consider a career in chemistry. Just talking positively about your professional life and what you do could be enough to inspire some young people to explore a career in chemical science. If you or your organisation can offer more experience to a young person considering a career in chemistry you might consider:

Industry placements: 

Industry placements are part of the new T Level two-year qualifications for 16 to 19 year olds in England. This qualification is equivalent to 3 A levels and aims to develop in-demand skills for businesses, nurture talent and prepare young people for the workplace

Industry placements can vary in length but must last for a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days). You can offer industry placements as a block, series of blocks, day release or a mix of these, depending on what works best for you, the training provider and the student.

You will partner with a local college or training provider to be matched with the right student. They will be able to help you with paperwork and support you with managing the placement. 

For more information, and how to find the right student for your business:

Visit T Levels on GOV.UK and read the Employer Guide to help businesses understand how to host an industry placement. This includes details on what is expected of employers during the placement.

Further guidance on employer industry placements. from the Department for Education.

Email: tlevel.placement@education.gov.uk

Virtual work experience

Online encounters and experiences that take place between students and employers are happening more  due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while face-to-face contact is not possible. This approach helps young people find out about industries and careers that may not otherwise be accessible due to geography, health and safety concerns, and other practical and accessibility barriers. It can also teach young people about digital skills, teamwork and communication in an online environment.

But it is much harder to give the hands-on-experience and works best for project work that would not require lab-testing equipment.

Our top tips

  • Set up an online induction for young people to meet different team members.
  • Ensure there is two-way interaction between students and employees
  • Provide online training modules
  • Set a task or targetted project work relevant to your workplace
  • Provide feedback on how actively the student participated. Feedback on any task or piece of project work that was set.

Work experience

Involves students carrying out real work tasks or duties, similar to an employee, but with the emphasis on the learning aspects of the experience. Work experience occurs on your premises; the vast majority of pre16 work placements last for one or two weeks, but post-16 the experience can be more varied in length depending on the course being followed.

A workplace visit 

This is where individuals or groups of students are guided round the workplace to watch a range of employee activities or work processes. It gives students a chance to see a work environment first-hand, observe work processes and talk to employees about their roles. It can also be an opportunity to investigate a topic or question related to an aspect of chemistry they are studying.

Job shadowing

When an individual student is assigned to ‘shadow’ an individual employee as they do their job and it allows close observation of jobs which for reasons of complexity, safety or security cannot be actively undertaken by the student. This can be particularly helpful for areas of the chemical sciences that struggle to provide work experience or to get students involved in their primary work processes.

Other resources for employers


UK map

Employers of chemical scientists

Explore companies and organisations employing chemists across the UK who may be able to offer work experience placements

Graphic of the UK with industries superimposed

Chemistry’s contribution: workforce trends and economic impact

Science and scientific skills play a critical role in the UK economy and society.

Graphic which reads 7,000 students from 265 schools took part in the ASPIRES2 Survey

Industry leaders’ urgent call for government to keep the UK chemistry talent pipeline flowing

Industry leaders have called on the government and education bodies to help school pupils discover chemistry career paths

Sterling coins and notes

What chemical scientists earned in 2023

The median salary increased from the 2021 results, but pay disparities remain.

Best practice

Advice and case studies from employers working with schools and young people