Wednesday 20 April 2016 6:30 am

Barclays wants young people to learn real life skills, so it’s putting them in a virtual reality box in lieu of work experience

​You simply can't underestimate the importance of work experience. Most employers will tell you that a short internship in a real life office does far more than a university course in preparing you for the working world.

Keen to show young people what a real workspace is like, Barclays has launched a virtual reality "LifeSkills Pod" for students at Lister Community School in east London, which supposedly mimics day-to-day office life.

Barclays says that the LifeSkills Pod – the world’s first immersive work experience simulator – will "give young people a taste of the ever-evolving workplace" without ever needing to set foot in an actual office building.

The bank launched the pod on the back of research that suggests real work placements are difficult to come by for many London students.

As the initiative launched in east London on Tuesday, Barclays recruited spoken word artist George the Poet to show students at the school how the pod works.

The tasks in the LifeSkills Pod are based on core skills students have developed through Barclays' LifeSkills initiative. Students will be able to select the field of work they are interested in, before completing a series of interactive tasks set by their virtual "employer".

Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills at Barclays, said: "LifeSkills believes that young people need to be given the opportunity to develop the core and transferable skills that employers are looking for now and in the future.

"Against the backdrop of a lack of work experience opportunities, we need to do even more to bridge the gap between education and work by providing a range of different experiences for young people such as the LifeSkills Pod."