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Work experience toolkits

ICAEW is fully aware that today’s school students are tomorrow’s business leaders. So we have put together this toolkit to help you develop a relevant work experience placement for students in their last two years of compulsory schooling.

Students should work through the activities during their time with you, asking you and your colleagues for help along the way. Although this toolkit provides a structured guide for work experience students, it is not a step-by-step guide to designing a work experience programme, nor does it give guidance on the legal aspects of these programmes and placements.

Designing a work experience placement

Work placements should include three main types of activity:

  • work shadowing;
  • helping staff with tasks that can be easily delegated and
  • structured activities – small projects that can be completed independently.

How to get started

Once you have decided to offer work experience placements, the first thing you should do is contact the education manager of your local Learning and Skills Council (LSC) or local Education Business Link (EBL) consortia about the arrangements in place in your local area.

When planning your placement you should consider:

  • Dates and duration.
  • Location and hours of work.
  • Duties and responsibilities of the post.
  • Dress and conduct.
  • Arrangements for transport and meals.
  • Position regarding employers’ liability and public liability policies.
  • Risks and control measures.
  • Confirmation of any mid-placement visit by a representative of the school.
  • Name and telephone number of the student’s line manager.
  • Name and telephone number of the contact at the workplace in case of difficulties.

Guidance on activities

The student information toolkit takes students through a series of activities and questionnaires that they should do during their work experience placement in an accountancy firm or business department. These take the form of either exercises, tasks and a short series of videos. The various materials are designed to introduce them to:

  • accounts preparation which forms the basis of much of the work in an accountancy function
  • the soft skills needed to qualify and work as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant
  • business analysis techniques
  • specific concepts and terminology used by accountants.

Case study, tasks and questions

The main activities are based around a case study company called Props ‘n’ Frocks Limited which sells fancy dress costumes.

The tasks are not supposed to be a test and we encourage students to ask questions along the way.

Within the student information toolkit there is introductory material which explains the types of business structures, the purpose of keeping accounting records and introduces a profit and loss account and balance sheet. It would be helpful to the student if a member of your staff could show them examples of client records, an accounts file and the final profit and loss account and balance sheet.

As well as the structured activities, there are additional questions included in the student’s information toolkit which are designed to be a stop gap either at the end of each day as suggested in the training plan, or at the end of the week if you prefer. These general questions build on student information and the work carried out in the case study.

You can choose whether to give out the answers after each stage of the accounts preparation process, or at the end of the week when the student has completed the case study.

The tasks have been designed so that the student can complete them during one week. However, if the placement is for a fortnight it is easy to expand the tasks to cover a longer period. 

Daily planner

In the student’s toolkit, we have included a daily planner. This is to help students work out, with their employer, what they should be doing on any given day of their placement. It will help to give structure to the placement for both them and you. Link to download planner

Soft skills videos

Being new to the workplace environment, students won’t always know what’s expected of them in terms of behaviour; nor will they necessarily be aware of the professional qualities they’ll need to fashion a successful long-term career. We’ve created a framework of seven core ‘soft skills’, to help guide and develop students’ behaviour.

Business analysis tasks

One of the best ways to gain insight into the business world is to actually analyse a business. In the student’s toolkit, we encourage students to undertake a structured analysis of the business that employs them. We have given a detailed overview of three techniques – SWOT, PESTLE and MOST – and suggest that they conduct their own research into the vision of the business and how it works, before coming up with recommendations on how the business should move forward.

Becoming an Authorised Training Employer (ATE)

If you want to train ACA students, authorisation is free and is not an overly time-consuming process. The authorisation process helps ensure all students, wherever they train, receive the same levels of support and guidance.

Becoming an Authorised Training Principle (ATP)

If you want to train ACA students but your company doesn’t want to go through the authorisation process, you as an individual can become authorised as an ATP. The role of an ATP is not onerous: monitoring your ACA students is a straightforward online process. A dedicated member of ICAEW staff will be available to guide you throughout their training and can offer advice on all aspects of ACA training when you need it.