Peterborough City Council’s Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards teams have joined forces to offer a limited number of combined work experience placements to secondary school students over the coming year.
Each placement will allow the student to experience the work of Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing. If you have a student at your school who you think would love the chance to join our regulatory teams for a 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 might be interested in a career in Trading Standards, Environmental Health or Licensing, and meet the criteria.
We can provide placements as a block (eg. three 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 is 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 professions and enjoy it so much they stay until they retire, we are seeing an enormous drop in young people entering our professions. To address this, we will be rolling out a programme of apprenticeships over the next few years to bring people into the teams, and see work experience as a great opportunity to show young students everything a career with us can offer.
What we 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, mis-descriptions 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.
Environmental Health is made up of Food Safety, Health and Safety and Pollution Control teams.
- Inspecting food businesses (restaurants, cafes, takeaways) to make sure the food that is being produced and cooked is safe for people to eat and will not make them ill. The team issues Food Hygiene Rating scores for businesses to demonstrate how compliant the food businesses is operating in accordance with food safety legislation. Scores go from 5 - Very Good to 0 (zero) - Urgent Improvement Necessary. These scores help customers make safe choices on where to eat.
- Health and safety at work – the team are responsible for investigating serious accidents and work-related deaths that happen in the workplace. Officers will investigate to determine if unsafe practices were being employed putting staff at risk of serious injury which are sometimes be fatal. Officers will take the appropriate action with the business to ensure staff are no longer at risk from unsafe work practices.
- Investigate infectious disease outbreaks and incidences (e.g. food poisoning, tuberculosis, legionella) to prevent further spread of the disease and illness to safeguard the public’s health. The team will work with other public health departments to control an outbreak and where possible uncover the source of the outbreak to contain and prevent further spread of the disease in the general population.
- Monitoring of pollution levels within the City to make sure the levels don’t exceed what it safe for our residents.
- Monitor certain businesses engaged in specific industrial processes that could lead to the release of pollutants into the air.
- Investigate nuisance complaints such as noisy neighbours, barking dogs, smoke from bonfires and odours and take appropriate enforcement action if the nuisance is found to be unreasonable i.e., a statutory nuisance.
- Liaise and work with the planning team to ensure that new and proposed developments won’t cause a nuisance to those that live nearby or that those persons who will live in the new development won't be affected by ongoing activities nearby.
- The team are responsible for licensing a wide range of premises and activities e.g. alcohol, gambling, taxi, tattooists, piercers to name a few.
- Activities and premises are licensed to provide a level of regulatory oversight e.g. taxi drivers are licensed to ensure they are fit and proper to carry out this activity as they are likely to encounter vulnerable persons i.e. lone females and children.
- Premises and activities are subjected to licensing conditions to ensure their practices and premises are safe and will not give rise to ill health, there is no risk to the health and safety of people taking part in the licensed activity and the activity will not promote crime and disorder.
- A licence can be removed, or revoked, where the person or activity is not complying with the licence conditions.
What the work experience involves
Each placement will involve spending time with officers from each of the three teams. It will certainly involve shadowing them on inspections. Officers 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. It may also involve supporting investigative activities. We will endeavour to give them a broad taste of the various topics we cover during their time with us.
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, you’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.
- The student will need to be able to get to either our offices at Sand Martin House in Fletton Quays, or Rutland County Council’s offices at Oakham, for 8.45am 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 more casual clothes are required, such as to visit a farm, the student will be advised 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 or Environmental Health 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
We have received high levels of work experience applications for 2024. All places have been filled for July. Applications for placements at other times of the year will be considered and will be offered depending on capacity.
For a placement for a secondary school student, the school or student should complete this online application form.
If you are a student at Sixth Form College or University you should complete this application form.
How we allocate placements
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. This is 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. We will contact you to advise of the outcome of your application.
Thank you for your interest in our placements. If you have any queries, you are welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.