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Work Experience Seminar


On 1st May Katie Bard, part of the Angela Mortimer Group based in Birmingham, held a Work Experience Seminar titled ‘Missed Opportunities in the Midlands’.

Verity Stokes (Team Leader at Katie Bard) opened the seminar and provided useful insights into the graduate employment market.

Group CEO John Mortimer with guest speakers Wendy Duprey, Jennifer Nicholson and Gary Cardin.
(From left to right) 

Guest speakers, Wendy Duprey (Director of Pathfinders Media Recruitment), Jennifer Nicholson (HR Manager at law firm SGH Martineau) and Gary Cardin (Birmingham Forward chairman and Partner with Deloitte Real Estate) discussed various experience of schemes that they have successfully run in a bid to retain talent in Birmingham. The event was closed by John Mortimer (Group CEO of the Angela Mortimer).

Please find below some interesting points regarding how work experience programmes help employers retain talent within the Midlands, and future employees gain precious experience to assist in their career progression.

If you would like further information regarding work experience programmes, please contact the consultants at Katie Bard on 0121 633 4443.

Verity Stokes, Team Leader with Katie Bard

Verity specialises in temporary and permanent office recruitment from entry level to junior/middle management positions, with an additional focus on graduate recruitment. She is Chair of the Talent Attraction and Retention Committee of Birmingham Future, working with Birmingham businesses to help them attract top talent to Birmingham and retain high calibre staff in their organisations.

Verity began with an economic overview of Birmingham; the graduate employment market in this context and the effects of the recession, as well as the importance of being able to provide a structured work experience programme for the emerging talent in Birmingham.

Some interesting statistics from her presentation included:

  • 40% of the Birmingham population are under the age of 25 (one of the highest percentages in Europe)
  • 83,000 people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed in Birmingham, (21.4% of the workforce in this age range)
  • A Katie Bard survey of undergraduates in 2006 showed that 70% of those studying in Birmingham expected to leave the region when they graduated.
  • The same survey conducted in 2013 shows that 67% of them want to stay.


Wendy Duprey, Pathfinders Media Recruitment

Wendy is the Director of Pathfinders Media Recruitment. They are based in London and have spent 40 years sourcing, educating and nurturing talent for the creative and media industries. They have continually championed graduates, providing them with temporary, permanent and internship opportunities.

  • Work experience and internships are becoming ever more widely utilised. According to this year’s Angela Mortimer Blue Book Employment Guide, 62% of graduates have completed internships.
  • The benefits of a well-run, structured programme are huge. They enable businesses to access raw talent and allow for succession planning, as well as enabling candidates to gain precious experience to build their CV in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive job market.
  • Pathfinders’ offers two week work experience placements as a completely free service for clients, as does Katie Bard. Should you wish to keep a candidate for longer, we offer placements of between 1 month and 6 months with nominal administration fees.
  • They advise that companies pay minimum wage for all placements lasting longer than two weeks, and recommend that travel and lunch expenses are covered as a minimum for two week placements.

Wendy discussed the benefits of using a recruitment agency to run a work experience programme including the wide and diverse talent pool of candidates worked with, all of whom are interviewed and screened to our usual high standard.

Jennifer Nicholson, HR Manager with SGH Martineau



Jennifer is responsible for the strategic and operational management of the HR function of SGH Martineau, UK law firm with international reach, with offices in Birmingham, London and Brussels, where she has been working since 2004.

  • SGH Martineau runs a variety of work experience placements throughout the year, all of varying lengths and focus. They range from one week unpaid work experience placements which are offered on an ad hoc basis, through to more formal and lengthy programmes giving a deeper insight into the organisation and sector.
  • When they initially started taking on young people for work experience programmes, they faced many difficulties due to the lack of guidelines provided for mentors in terms of structure and content.
  • A more formal structure has now been introduced offering a broader experience for candidates, a set structure of activities and tasks, and continued feedback throughout the programme.
  • Jennifer sees work experience as a way to give back to the local community, and provide opportunities for those who may not otherwise be considered.In particular, those who have little ambition and lack direction when thinking about their future careers. She described the students they mentor as ‘the talent of our future’.


Gary Cardin, Chairman of Birmingham Forward & Partner with Deloitte Real Estate

Gary works as a Partner in the Birmingham office of Deloitte Real Estate. He heads up the Planning and Development team and is actively involved in a number of complex projects covering regeneration, town centre development and commercial planning advice. Gary is the Chair of the Colmore Business District and Chair of Birmingham Forward.

  • He described work experience as ‘knowledge gained through exposure to a working environment’.
  • He believes that work experience has lost value with employers in the past few years, with companies offering more and more excuses as to why they cannot take work experience forward within their company. Despite this, the first thing these companies will look for when recruiting is work experience.
  • Gary believes we need to look deeper into work experience to see the potential for businesses and make it an accessible option for all - beyond just university graduates.
  • Work experience goes beyond just having specific experience in a certain industry, it is a way to educate the younger generation in ‘how to get on’ in the world of work, including social skills and how to dress, etc.
  • Birmingham Forward and Birmingham Future are working towards getting school leavers and graduates into work.
  • Gary sees work experience as a way to inspire them and create the right framework to change their destinies, and provide hope that there are opportunities available.

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