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Every child in England and Wales is required to undertake work experience at some point in Year 10. The Department for Education (DfE) in London defines work experience as “a placement on employer’s premises in which a student carries out a particular task or duty, or range of tasks or duties, more or less as would an employee, but with an emphasis on the learning aspects of the experience.”

The vast majority of students do their one- or two-week work experience placements locally: in local companies, hospitals, schools and businesses. In doing so, they gain important insights into the world of work, ones that provide a taster of life after school.

Yet, in an increasingly globalized world, college and university recruiters as well as future employers are looking for individuals with considerably more diverse international and language experience. It is in this particular context that the Academy of English has been offering work experience placements to students from its partner school, the High Arcal School in Sedgley in the West Midlands, since 2013. The project is known as Oldenburg Work Experience (Programme: OL WE).

Living up to High Arcal’s aspiration of creating confident and aspirational global citizens, Programme: OL WE operated by the Academy of English aims:

  • to give the student an opportunity to do their work experience in a foreign country;
  • to provide work experience placements in Germany that are meaningful and tailored to career aspirations of the individual student;
  • to give the student a cutting edge over his/her peers with recruiters, regardless of whether they are tertiary college, university or employment recruiters;
  • to immerse the students in German language and culture in Oldenburg, northwestern Germany;
  • to foster cross-cultural understanding and awareness, increasing the participant’s tolerance and respect for difference between and within cultures; and
  • to strengthen institutional ties between The High Arcal School and The Academy of English.