How virtual work experience helped pave the way for a Scottish student to secure an apprenticeship

Many young people find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to looking for a job because there are limited career options available in their local area. And while the pandemic generally reduced the opportunities for many young people living in remote, rural areas or deprived urban areas, teenager Anna was one of the lucky ones for whom everything fell into place.  

Anna attended a High School in the Highlands in the far north of Scotland. Like most of her peers, she spent the lead up to her National and Higher exams in and out of lockdown with no option to participate in traditional in-person work experience or meet with local employers. 

Fortunately for Anna, Dounreay – Scotland’s largest decommissioning project and the single largest employer in her area – continued recruiting throughout the pandemic. And, by partnering with Speakers for Schools in the spring of 2021, they were able to offer 25 students from the Highlands the opportunity to take part in a four-day online placement to learn more about careers at Dounreay. 

Thanks to a bit of luck and Anna’s own hard work and initiative, she was successful in securing not only a work experience placement but also an apprenticeship with Dounreay. 

Speaking about her experiences, she said: 

“I was lucky enough to find out that I had been successful in getting the apprenticeship just as the virtual sessions began. I feel that applying for the work experience showed the panel that I was keen to learn more about Dounreay and contributed to my success in getting an apprenticeship.” 

Over the course of her online placement, Anna took part in a series of live, interactive sessions that developed her confidence and helped prepare her for life as an apprentice.  

Through her work experience, she was able to find out more about the history of Dounreay, to meet professionals working in a variety of different roles, and improve her skills in communication, ICT and teamworking – skills that Anna is quick to point out have all helped her greatly while working remotely in her current role as a Business and Administration Apprentice. 

Now five months into her apprenticeship at Dounreay, Anna has volunteered to be part of the team that will deliver this year’s virtual work experience placement to inspire other teenagers to follow her example.  

It goes without saying that she is a great advocate for apprenticeships and her success story is a fantastic example of how, despite the challenges of the pandemic, employers like Dounreay are embracing virtual work experience to ensure that young people can benefit from opportunities either in their local area or anywhere in the UK.  

If your organisation would like to offer young people opportunities for virtual work experience, register with Speakers for Schools here.