How to Break out of the ‘No Work Experience’ Cycle

A guest post by Regus Connect Community Manager Susannah Stroud

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You need work experience to get a job; you need a job to get work experience. We’ve all been there. Most of you reading this still might be there. 68 percent of you, to be precise.

It’s a vicious cycle that seems almost impossible to break out of, even for those that have studied for degrees and vocational qualifications. But previous generations will be quick to remind you how it was in their day – you picked what you wanted to do, and even if you had to start in the post-room, or making coffee, you grafted every single day until you got there. That’s what they say, as they silently judge you for being naive or lazy or overly optimistic.

Breaking the cycle is no walk in the park. There’s no denying that the economic situation in which many unemployed graduates have found themselves in 2013 is the toughest for generations. It applies not just to job seekers, but to businesses too – they’ve had no choice but to recruit fewer graduates, and only those who have the most experience and are willing to work hardest for least. Stats from the recent High Fliers report say that more than a third of the jobs available will be taken by people who have already worked for the firm while studying.

The cycle stems from desperation. No one wants to be ‘underemployed’ or work for next to nothing, but so many recent graduates have no other choice but to do just that. The fact that many highly-educated new graduates are forced into accepting low-value placements compromises the standard of living for other young people too, creating a false economy that perpetuates the cycle of unemployment, devaluation and dissatisfaction for all.

But small businesses and startups have limited resources, and it’s hard for them to justify anything other than those who are willing and able to work for less, or need less training. Big businesses can afford to recruit with graduate schemes, which pay attractive salaries, offer benefits, bonuses and training. These schemes get pushed at you left, right and centre while you’re at uni, and you could be lead to believe they’re the be all and end all. In fact, it’s the SMEs who account for 99.9% of all businesses and majority of jobs in the UK. SMEs are businesses, sometimes startups, employing less than 250 people, and though small, offer some of the best experience – none of that coffee-run, photocopying cliché!

They are where you can be exposed to the business ‘coalface’, given early responsibility hug potential for quick career progression. Often you’ll be working closely with the company directors, and be gaining diverse experience as you’re exposed to aspects and environments.

And this is how we can break that vicious work experience cycle: by giving unemployed graduates the opportunity to get that kind of amazing experience, and with companies who may not previously have been willing to take a risk on them.

Regus is a global company, providing office space for businesses (small and large) all over the world. We’re going to connect our customer base of growing SMEs with your ‘lost generation’ of young jobseekers and give you a well-earned break. It’s called Regus Connect. It provides the infrastructure for 6-week work experience placements, where you’ll be paid to experience working life within SMEs, alongside free training in leadership, entrepreneurship and employability. You’ll be based in exciting collaborative workspaces where you can network with peers and entrepreneurs.

This January 2014, we’re launching these Regus Connect hubs inside 10 of our 200+ UK centres all over the UK. Which ones? We want you to tell us by voting for your cities.

If it sounds like something you’d be up for, then make sure to share with your friends to up the votes and influence the creation of your own future workplace. The Top 10 cities with the most votes will be chosen and launched, so you can get this local experience.

Find out more, vote and find the current leaderboard at regusconnect.com.