An industry placement is an extended period of structured time that a student spends in your workplace, developing real skills and making a meaningful contribution to your organisation.
Many employers are already offering industry placements, which will be a fundamental part of T Levels – a new course designed by employers for 16-19-year olds, which combines classroom learning with a substantial industry placement.
But how might industry placements contribute to the development of your workforce? Simon Shaw, part of the industry placement support team, explains…
Whether you’re a large corporate company or a small third sector organisation, you will have your own approach to workforce development. This may range from a formal planning process, to a light-touch, agile process that is responsive to your immediate business needs. This has to be your starting point.
But how might industry placements fit within your plans and make a meaningful and positive contribution to your workforce? Well first, we’d encourage you to take a step back and reflect on the following questions:
Start with the big picture: How are we performing as an organisation? What are we aiming to achieve, and over what timescales?
Skills needs and gaps: What are the strengths and weaknesses in our workforce? Where are the gaps? What do we need to be successful in terms of skills, knowledge, experience, and diversity?
Action: How might we fill these gaps – through development, recruitment or maybe other external resources? When do we need to fill these gaps?
Having a clear response to each of these questions will help you to see how industry placements might add real value in developing talent within your business.
Here are three ways in which industry placements might add significant value:
- Apprenticeships and recruitment
Do you already offer apprenticeships, or do you intend to, in the future? Apprenticeships, which are full-time jobs with training, can be an ideal next step for your industry placement students. Industry placements offer an extended opportunity for you to get to know students. Those who complete an industry placement with you could be ideal recruits to entry-level, full-time roles, after they have completed their course.
- Workforce demographics
Are there opportunities to grow a more diverse workforce, looking at similarities and differences in factors like age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation? Introducing T Level students to these roles could engage a new pipeline of talent and bring in fresh ideas and perspectives.
- Technological advances
Will your business need better digital skills in the future? Introducing the ‘digital native’ generation to these roles could support your recruitment in future too.
So how might this look in practice? Here’s an example…
A small but growing engineering company needs a better way to keep track of customer interactions. They have invested in a customer relationship management (CRM) system and designed a placement for an IT student. The student’s job is to get to know the new system, upload trial data and test how it works.
The student is carrying out the project as day release. She is gradually becoming more and more involved in the business and getting to know the sales team well. Her work is supported and overseen by the sales manager. The success of the industry placement, which was the first time they’ve had a student working in the business, has made them think about whether they can also take on an apprentice, as part of building their future workforce.
New government support is available to help you
The government has launched a new employer website and package of support, to help you find out more and plan and prepare to be involved with industry placements.
The website includes off-the-shelf tools, case studies from those already offering placements, opportunities for workshops, webinars and tailored hands-on support.
You can find out more here
The support is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by the Strategic Development Network (SDN).
If you have any questions, you can reach out to the SDN industry placements team here.