Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts on work experience

We get lots of requests for work experience placements, and have to disappoint most of the callers because we don't really have anything suitable for people who want to work directly with animals. Most of our rehoming is either via private boarding kennels or foster homes and neither of these is suitable to meet the fairly stringent checks which are required by local authorities before placements can be approved. 

Our clinic is approved by the LEA, but doesn't really give a very satisfactory placement opportunity because work experience students can't have contact with the animals due to confidentiality requirements (because most of the animals have owners). This means they're limited to helping out at the reception desk, and the staff area there is tiny, so really they don't get do do much besides helping with filing and watching animals being booked in. If we had more than one person at a time, the area would burst!

I suppose it does give the placement students an opportunity to see an animal welfare clinic in action and get an idea just how pressured it all is.

The shops are really much more suited to giving placement students a genuine experience of the adult world of work (and possibly an understanding that most people's jobs are rather mundane for most of the time). I'm also happier that they're offering a more realistic view of employment, as I have real concerns about young people being encouraged to choose supposedly vocational courses because they love animals without any understanding that there may be very little chance of getting a job at the end of it.

Realistically, society needs a pool of people earning money in jobs that aren't particularly exciting in order to be able to afford animal carers (either for our own animals or ones in rescue).

I'm not sure the emphasis on students choosing jobs they're going to enjoy even does them many favours if they do get an animal care post because a lot of the work is still going to be repetitive, dirty, hard and poorly paid and they're going to need to learn perseverance to get through it.

Further thought: I suppose what bothers me most about some of this is that it's all about encouraging the kids to think you can cause things to happen by wanting rather than by setting your goals and working towards them. Fundamentally that's the root of a load of the problems we face here: there are tons of people who want to tell us what we ought to do, and very few who are willing to help us work to achieve it.

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