Placements: Embedded as the norm?

Research output: Published contribution to conferencePaper


Students are facing an ever-increasing competitive graduate job market with Brooks and Youngson (2016)

reminding us that in addition to academic qualifications, students increasingly need to differentiate

themselves in a crowded job market through personal added value such as relevant experience, skills and

abilities. Bennett et al (2008) goes further by suggesting that employers prefer graduates with work

experience relevant to the field they are applying for, with some viewing it as more important than the

degree classification and institution attended. Wilton (2012) concluded that undertaking a work placement

as an integral element of undergraduate study is associated with both the enhanced development of

transferable skills and labour market advantage.

There has been several studies that explore work placements (Brooks and Youngson, 2016; Wilton, 2012;

and Jones, Green and Higson, 2017) and the positive impact they have on students employability, career

progression as well as academic performance so why then, as Jones et al. (2017) suggests, is there a decline

in students taking up the opportunity of a work placement?

Walker and Bowerman (2010, as cited in Brooks and Youngson 2016) believe that the changing

composition of the student body along with general economic situations are possible contributory factors

to this decline, while Bullock et al.’s (2009) findings show students not wishing to break their study pattern

by working a year in industry.

So, what can Higher Education institutions do (additionally) to help our students stand out from the crowd

and encourage students to undertake a work placement?

This research will explore our experiences and work done with Business Management students at Solent

University from embedding placements into the curriculum to the additional support and activities

offered to students to help them not only find a placement but be confident in the employment process.

The workshop will initially talk through our experiences, including testimonies from students who have

benefitted from this placement, some data collected on barriers to going out on placement, how we

embedded placement into the curriculum and the results that this had. The Workshop will then consist

of structured group discussions around key challenges within this topic area, e.g engaging students with

placements, what makes a good placement and other key questions. This will then be followed by wider

group discussions around challenges with identification of best practice that could be emulated across

the HE sector. The outcomes of these activities would be used as part of a wider research project on the

challenges of embedding placements as the norm.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 4 Sep 2019

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