Work experience. Two words that can strike fear into the heart of any young person.

Any young person nearing the age where work experience is compulsory, that is.

After all, it involves preparation, planning, attention to detail. It means being organised, finding your own placement, contacting them, arranging meetings. It means hard work, and a glance at what life may be like in your later life.

It’s a shock to the system, a wake-up call.

Some argue that the week, or two weeks, spent away from school on placement could be put to better use. Think that work experience has no real effect on what you do in later life, so why bother? It is only one week out of your entire life - it doesn’t guarantee you a job anywhere, simply gives you a 'taste' of what it is like in the working world.

So, these people might argue, what is the point? If it doesn’t matter where you go, if it doesn’t affect your future in any way, wouldn’t students be better off at school?

No, is my simple answer to that. After only a week on placement, I’ve learnt a lot. Learnt what it's like to have to be aware of train timetables, of bus routes. Understood what it's like to have to budget, so you don’t run out of money for lunch.

It’s taught me many things that I couldn’t have learned so quickly elsewhere – and this first week has been enjoyable.

Work experience is essential. If a student was committed to getting a job in one area of work but after a week they found that they couldn’t stand the place it would be a valuable experience for them.

Even if they found that they loved where they worked it would at least make them sure.

Personally, I feel that work experience at this age should be compulsory for all. What are your views? Do you feel it’s a waste of time, or a valuable lesson?