Engagement with graduates could be damagedSome firms may take advantage of students who undertake unpaid work experience placements, it has been said.

Graduate recruitment often involves people undertaking prior work experience before joining an organisation full time.

However, the person on work experience should not feel obliged to carry out all the tasks asked of them and they should also set their own hours, or companies may contravene employment legislation, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) said.

Vice-president of AGCAS Elspeth Farrer said the need for work experience remains for some individuals, especially in competitive sectors where having prior knowledge is often important in the graduate recruitment process.

Prior experience could improve an individual’s application for a full-time position.

"I think there have always been some firms who have perhaps had a tendency to take advantage," she said.

Recent research by the National Council for Work Experience found that two-thirds of students and graduates feel exploited or undervalued by working unpaid.