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Work experience and Work-Related Learning activity

Please Note: Work experience in many areas of the country has been cancelled due to COVID-19. See below ‘online alternatives to work experience’.

Work experience and work-related learning (online or in-person) presents opportunities for people to experience what it is like to work in healthcare. Both ultimately assist with attraction, engagement, recruitment activities, and transition into workforce supply pipelines such as, apprenticeships and higher education.  

Why offer work experience and work-related learning?  

We know that applications to university undergraduate courses in medicine, dental, health sciences, nursing and the allied health professions often require evidence of experiences in a relevant setting. HEE is also acutely aware that too often persons from underrepresent and disadvantaged groups, through no fault of their own, miss out on these opportunities. 

Education providers seeking to meet Gatsby Benchmarks require ‘encounters with employers and employees’ and ‘experiences of workplaces’ and guidance from Sutton Trust on social mobility in the workplace (2020) suggests, building diverse talent pipelines can be supported through openly advertising work experience placements and considers offering such opportunities a vital part of addressing socio-economic diversity in the workplace.  

In addition, providing opportunities to find out what it is like to work in healthcare will help to address challenges set out in The NHS People Plan (PP), tackle health inequalities and aid social mobility. 


Work experience - terminology does it matter? 

Put simply – yes.  

NHS employers require a common language, to ensure transparency and set realistic expectations between new models of delivery and avoid future ambiguity, confusion, and barriers for those with a widening access and participation background accessing education, training, and employment. 

The ‘Future of Healthcare Work Experience: Discovery Report’ provides additional information on the use of terminology in this space, supported by the findings of a comparative survey (presented in chapter seven) and provides a new set of definitions, that more clearly defines and distinguishes the difference between in-person work experience and online alternatives.  

HEE is encouraging all health and care providers to adopt a shared common language and new definitions as detailed below. 

The new definitions will be adopted within the Talent for Care quarterly returns.  


Work Experience  

Takes place in the workplace and allows people to experience what it is like to undertake a job supervised by staff who already work in the environment. Work experience can last half a day through to programmes over one or two weeks. Some offer hands-on experience, while some provide insights, observation, and work shadowing. 


Work- Related Learning - online or in-person   

Can be online or in-person. Provides a deeper understanding of the skills and knowledge required in the workplace through curated content, with clear learning outcomes. Can include skills events, simulation, demonstrations, scenarios, and technology enhanced learning methods. 


The Future of Healthcare Work Experience Discovery Report