Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards is offering a limited number of work experience placements to secondary school students over the coming year, and if you have a student at your school who you think would love the chance to join the team for a work experience placement, please continue reading to see what we are looking for and how to apply.
We also welcome work experience applications from sixth form and university students who think they might be interested in a career in Trading Standards and meet the criteria. These can be provided as a block (eg. 3 days, a week or two weeks) at any time during the year, or for one day a week over a few weeks.
However an offer of a placement will be subject to our capacity. Naturally we want to give you a real taste of our work, and it may be necessary to turn down applications if we can envisage operational pressures at that time, or we have already accepted placement requests from other students.
Despite the incredible variety of things that we cover, and the fact that most people join our profession and enjoy it so much they stay until their retire, we are seeing an enormous drop in young people entering our profession. To address this we will be rolling out a programme of apprenticeships over the next few years to bring people into the team, and see work experience as a great opportunity to show students everything a career with us can offer.
What does Trading Standards do?
Trading Standards could be considered the ‘Police of the business sector’. We enforce over 100 pieces of law covering the following topics:
- Criminal trading – we crack down on criminal trading in things such as counterfeiting, illicit tobacco, rogue trading, misdescriptions and pressure selling.
- Product safety – we investigate unsafe products that have or could hurt people and make sure they are taken off sale and destroyed if they are found to be unsafe
- Food standards – we make sure the food being sold is described correctly (‘organic’, ‘British’ etc), that ingredients and allergens are labelled correctly, that you are getting the weight/volume that the label states and that the food is within the use by date. Although we do receive complaints that we investigate, most issues are uncovered during out inspection work.
- Animal health and welfare, and animal feed – we carry out lots of inspections on farms to make sure animals are being well cared for, that the food they are being fed is safe for them, and that appropriate disease control measures (such as ear tags) are in place. We also investigate allegations of neglect.
- Licensing of petrol stations – we carry out inspections at petrol stations across the county to make sure they are being run safely. This is because they store gallons for flammable liquids which could cause enormous harm if the site is not managed properly.
- Weights and measures – we also check commercial scales and measures to make sure they are accurate, for example checking the accuracy of weighbridges across the county, and checking heating oil tankers are dispensing the correct amount of heating oil.
What will the work experience involve?
Each day the student will go on at least one visit to a business with a Trading Standards officer. That officer will spend time explaining the purpose of the visit beforehand and the kinds of things to look for, will take the student on the visit so that they can see our work in practice, and afterwards will explain the next steps. At every stage they will have the opportunity to ask lots of questions. We will endeavour to give them a broad taste of the various topics we cover during their placement.
Who would be suitable?
Because we are hopeful that work experience will lead to them applying for an apprenticeship, even if this is after they’ve completed further education, we would be grateful if schools could identify students with the kind of aptitude they’d need for a profession with us:
- Confident communicator – not afraid to articulate their views on things and able to explain difficult concepts clearly and confidently. Not shy to speak to new people.
- Inquisitive – our job is all about uncovering issues. We have to be nosey. We won’t necessarily accept what someone tells us - sometimes we have to dig and dig to get to the truth. We have to examine things, search for things and gather evidence.
- Able to read and interpret complex information – our job is entirely based around whether a business has broken the law so it is really important that we can interpret the law accurately. Some pieces of law are straight forward, but others are long and complex. There can also be case law from court cases that help us to interpret the law. Whilst we wouldn’t necessarily expect students to have experience in interpreting the law, they do need a propensity to be able to digest complicated text, and interpret it in a way that can then be applied in practice.
Whilst we appreciate many school children seeking work experience placements won’t yet be in their final GCSE years at school, we would draw your attention to the fact that we do require a minimum score of ‘4’ (grade C or above) in English and Maths to be eligible to join our apprenticeship scheme which may be a future consideration for them if they enjoy their placement and are keen to join our team in the future.
What are the essential requisites?
- The Cambridgeshire based team works from South Cambridgeshire District Council’s offices at Cambourne. The student will need to be able to get there for 08.45am each morning and be able to get home again at around 5pm.
- They will need to dress smartly each day in attire suitable for visiting business premises. If a farm visit is planned, they will be advised what clothing will be suitable in advance. Any necessary protective clothing will be provided.
- They will need to be happy to travel in a car or van with a Trading Standards officer to attend business inspections.
- There is a possibility that they will go on a farm inspection, which may include crossing several fields on foot so a reasonable level of agility is required.
How to apply
For a placement, the school should complete our online application form
If you are a student at Sixth Form College or University you should complete this application form.
Places will be offered on a first come first served basis to those we receive applications for who fully meet our criteria and whom we deem will be suitable for the placement.
Anyone we are looking to offer a placement to will have a short informal interview online to discuss the placement further and make sure we are able to meet their needs and expectations. It will also give them some useful interview experience.
Once the places are filled we will close the application form online. We will contact you to advise you of the outcome of your application.
Thank you for your interest in our placements. If you have any queries at all you are welcome to contact us at Tstand@peterborough.gov.uk.