Placements: Embedded as the norm?

Claire Hughes, Micheal Head

    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 statusUnpublished - 4 Sept 2019


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