US/UK law firm Reed Smith becomes first legal practice to sign up to a major initiative aimed at opening up access to work experience opportunities to anyone with an Internet connection.
The firm has joined the likes of ITN, Capgemini, MediaCom, ZenithMedia, Channel 4 and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in agreeing to place all their work experience and internship opportunities on GoThinkBig.co.uk, on which thousands of work experiences from a range of employers have been pooled into one place for the first time.
Reed Smith is currently using the site to invite applicants for week-long corporate law work experience in July, and publicise an event next week for law students and trainee solicitors with disabilities who want to know more about working in private practice.
The scheme was set up by O2 and Bauer Media in October 2012 with £5m in funding and a commitment that the two businesses would make 30,000 experience and skills opportunities available to 14-25 year olds over its first three years. They have offered over 2,000 so far.
Reed Smith partner Carolyn Pepper said: “Reed Smith will partner with GoThinkBig to help support and encourage young people in developing the skills that they need for the work place. All businesses need young talent, energy and creativity to grow. We want to help young people realise their potential, talents and goals.”
The site highlights the non-graduate route into law offered by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and the recent launch of the Level Four Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services.
According to research by GoThinkBig, over 460,000 16-25 year olds say they have not been able to gain work experience relevant to the career path they want to follow. The biggest barrier to this is access to relevant opportunities – as over 69% of businesses say they don’t formally publicise work experience opportunities.
Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, head of GoThinkBig, said: “GoThinkBig exists to help support young people into the world of work – delivering relevant opportunities to gain experience and a foot in the door. Employers tell us that they will always look at experience first and foremost – so bridging the existing skills gap for the almost half a million young people who have yet to gain relevant skills is vital if we’re to address youth unemployment. We are thrilled that Reed Smith is partnering GoThinkBig and hope that other businesses will follow.”