UK: Work Experience Lets Candidates Try Governance For Size

Last Updated: 22 May 2018
Article by Charis Evans

ICSA has developed guidance to help support companies to offer work experience

Governance has never been higher on the public and political agenda, yet the profile of the company secretary is still relatively low amongst graduates and those at the beginning of their careers.

ICSA is working to change this. We want to raise the profession's profile and encourage more people to choose to qualify as a company secretary or governance professional, with the many opportunities that this will give them.

But we cannot do this alone and we are grateful for the incredible support of our members who already collaborate with us to offer a range of taster experiences. These are designed to give young people a practical appreciation of what governance is, how it works, what they could bring to it and how to get started on the career path.

We are always looking for more volunteers to join us in this endeavour and to support those who want to set up a work experience scheme – but are not sure where to start – we have published a new guide to offering work experience in company secretarial teams.

The guide draws upon the wisdom and experience of ICSA members who run successful schemes, setting out what is involved in offering work experience, providing a framework for deciding what kind of scheme is right for your organisation and tips for how to design and run it.

The advantages

Many of us benefit from having an extra pair of hands available – particularly for routine activities at busy times. However, a considered work experience scheme can offer so much more to both the employer and the candidate.

Work experience is an opportunity for organisations to give and receive in many different ways, and can create benefits on a commercial, cultural, reputational and industry-wide level.


The most common reason why organisations value work experience schemes is recruitment – as an early way of getting to know the talent pool.

Although there is a clear 'try before you buy' benefit in seeing how candidates adapt to your working environment, the very process of receiving applications, and interviewing candidates, also gives you a good sense of the broad spread of available talent.

"Work experience is an empirical, proactive, first-hand opportunity to find good people"

Financially, this translates into tangible savings. Recruitment costs can be around 15–20% of salary. Quality is also important and the best person for a job in practice may not always be the one who presents best in theory.

Work experience can therefore provide an empirical, proactive, first-hand opportunity to find good people.

Challenge your norm

Work experience is not necessarily a one-way flow of knowledge. Candidates are typically young, newly qualified and with different cultural knowledge and experience.

This may be from being 'digital natives' or their awareness of the latest thinking and emerging practice from their recent studies. This can offer challenge and innovation in how you work.

Boost to reputation

Your organisation's reputation can be enhanced by a positive candidate experience. If they are already considering company secretarial work, they may be in contact with others in a similar situation – particularly if they are also attending a course.

Whether it is what they have to say about you or the fact that your candidates go on to achieve good results, it can benefit how your organisation is perceived.

The industry case

As an industry, we all benefit. Company secretarial work may be unfamiliar to many potential good candidates, while others may be put off without an opportunity to find out more about it. Work experience schemes help increase the talent that's available when we all seek to recruit.

Designing your scheme

Work experience takes many different forms. A key decision in planning a work experience scheme is deciding what to offer. Although there are few rigid definitions, a rough guide is:

  • Shadowing: Very short duration (for example, one day), attachment to a specific person or role, with no formal employment contract.
  • Work experience: Limited-duration (of any length) with broader experience of working in an organisation, potentially in different roles/functions, and possibly under a temporary contract.
  • Traineeship: Limited-duration period, including a structured learning process, to prepare the trainee for permanent work in an organisation, whether generally or in a specific role.

The best way to choose what kind of scheme you want to offer is to balance the costs with the benefits. Direct costs are generally low and typically limited to expenses and a nominal, short-term wage.

The main indirect cost can be the time and effort of those involved in the scheme, whether in setting it up, supervising or running it, or in being shadowed. The real extent of these costs will depend very much on the type and scale of scheme you choose.

However, the 'perceived' extent may be much higher, which is a common cause of resistance to such programmes.

"Choosing the right areas of work to experience is an essential, with several factors to balance"

The right balance between the benefits of a scheme and its costs will be different for each organisation – based on what it wants to achieve – and will typically reflect your staffing levels and overall company size.

Whatever the form of scheme, the other broad consideration is its scale: its size, duration and intensity. An intensive scheme may need greater resourcing to plan and deliver, but can give candidates a well-focused range of experience and learning in a short time.

These might take longer to gain where the candidate is helping with the team's workload and left to make their own discoveries.

Choosing the right areas of work to experience is an essential, with several factors to balance: how to create the richest learning experience, how to minimise supervisory overhead at busy times and how to ensure confidentiality is protected.

The champion

For work experience to deliver the broadest benefit, you need a broad range of people involved. A champion of the scheme is essential in bringing those people together to make it happen. That champion might be you.

The champion for the scheme should have the vision to understand its value and how the organisation can benefit.

They need the energy to seek high-level sponsorship and commitment, not only for organisational approval, but to ensure that those in senior roles are enthusiastic about having work shadowed or observed. They also need the commitment to see the scheme through to realisation.

Key to championing a scheme is to ensure that everyone appreciates the overall opportunity and benefit, without becoming resistant to the extra work they fear it might involve.

Although it is useful to think of it as an overall scheme in the advocacy, in the planning you can identify the specific asks of any individual or function. Requesting a clear and well-defined commitment makes it easier to get agreement.

To discover more about the experiences that ICSA promotes to graduates, visit the Graduate Hub.

Work experience checklist

  • What kind of scheme would work best for you and what would you call it?
  • How many candidates do you want to support?
  • How long should your scheme be?
  • What are the goals of your team – what are you trying to achieve for the candidate and for the organisation?
  • What will be the balance between active learning and routine work in your scheme?
  • Are there any 'no-go areas' for work experience or a requirement to manage client confidentiality?
  • How far will the candidate's learning be driven by the scheme, or their own curiosity?
  • What timing will best balance supervisory, resourcing and learning priorities?
  • What timing will best suit the availability and interest of candidates?
  • Can you see your function from an outsider's point of view?
  • How much recruitment time and effort will our scheme merit or require?
  • What will happen to the candidate at the scheme's end?

Charis Evans is business development director at ICSA: The Governance Institute

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions