Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Can Pay, Should Pay? Comparing employer and student outcomes of paid and unpaid work opportunities

Smith, Colin F; Smith, Sally; Irving, Christine


Profile Image

Prof Sally Smith
Head of Graduate Apprenticeships and Skills Development and Professor

Christine Irving


In a time of high youth unemployment, when relevant work experience is often cited as the most important factor in finding a graduate job, computing students are being advised to pursue work placements or other work experience during their studies to boost their employability on graduation. Does it matter whether work experience is paid or unpaid? The aim of the paper is to address the core issues underpinning this debate, specifically with regard to ICT students and employers. A review of the published literature informs survey research, collecting data from students and employers with experience of paid placements and unpaid work experience. Initial findings indicate positive outcomes for students and employers from both paid and unpaid work. However, outcomes suggest that employers offering paid placements hold definite views on the benefits of so doing for both them and for the students they take on placements. Students, meanwhile, emphasise that unpaid work experience is no longer a viable pursuit for the majority of students.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name HEA STEM Conference
Publication Date 2013
Deposit Date Jan 30, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Student employability; work experience; work placements; volunteering; internships;
Public URL