Keir Starmer announces he will make two weeks work experience compulsory again

Work experience was made optional by the government in 2012 but Labour will reverse the move

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 29 September 2021 13:27 BST
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Labour pledges compulsory work experience and career counselling for pupils

Keir Starmer has pledged to make it again compulsory for school pupils to take two weeks work experience.

The pledge was the main new policy in Sir Keir's speech to Labour conference, alongside giving all children the option of seeing a careers advisor.

"I can promise that Labour, as the name tells you will make a priority of getting this country ready for work," he told party delegates in Brighton.

"That’s why we will focus on practical life skills. We will reinstate two weeks of compulsory work experience and we will guarantee that every young person gets to see a careers advisor."

Work experience for Key Stage 4 pupils aged 14 to 16 was compulsory until 2012, when the policy was changed by the coalition government.

The move is backed by groups including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce.

Sir Keir also promised to improve the teaching of computer skills in schools, claiming that the UK does "worse in computer skills than most of our economic rivals".

He said "digital skills" would sit alongside the three "Rs" - Reading, writing, and arithmetic.

"We need to ensure that every child emerges from school ready for work. And ready for life," he said.

Sir Keir added: "If you can't level up our children you are not serious about levelling up at all."

Other policies included in the speech but briefed ahead of it include a new NHS target for mental health support to be offered within one month. Sir Keir also said Labour would toughen sentences for rapists, stalkers and domestic abusers.

The Labour leader largely used the speech to speak about his personal history and values.

Discussing his previous job as leader of the Crown Prosecution Service, Sir Keir said that "Crown Prosecution Service" was comprised of "three very important words".

He said: "Crown brings home the responsibility of leading part of the nation’s legal system. Prosecution tells you that crime hurts and victims need justice to be done. Service is a reminder that the job is bigger than your own career advancement."

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