COLUMN: Work placements are an essential part of courses

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A student’s academic or vocational journey involves gaining recognised qualifications that ultimately aid their progression to the world of work.

Yet employers don’t just want bright, qualified young people – they want evidence of their employability skills, as well as a positive and mature attitude.

According to a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce, 79 per cent of businesses say work experience is the most important way of preparing young people for employment. Completing a meaningful work placement is no longer simply an option for students; they are now an essential part of their study programme. At West Notts College we have a dedicated team that supports and encourages students to find a placement that complements the skills gained from their studies, while giving them a valuable insight into the modern workplace.

The team promotes the benefits of industry experience, along with current vacancies, through weekly clinics held at all college sites and the online Job Shop – a dedicated website where students can see which companies are offering placement opportunities.

With around 3,000 full-time students under the age of 19 expected to gain some form of work experience this academic year, the team relies on the support and commitment of local businesses. It approaches a range of different companies each week and since September alone has successfully engaged with almost 100 employers. The team works with employers to ensure all relevant health and safety checks have taken place before learners start their placement and aims to make the process of hosting a student as straightforward as possible so that it’s equally rewarding for both parties.

Last year, The Beauty Chain, Nottinghamshire Police, Dijitul and Woodhead Construction were amongst the many local employers who supported our students.

Our learners have completed placements in a range of sectors relevant to their course including engineering, construction, childcare, health and social care, hair and beauty, sport, public services, business studies, travel and tourism, hospitality and catering, and creative industries and digital technologies – giving them a taste of the realities of the workplace, getting them to use their initiative, and put their skills and knowledge into practice.

Many students have been offered an apprenticeship or full-time employment following their placement, which shows the added benefit of giving employers the chance to explore learners’ talents in readiness for recruitment opportunities.

However, with 36 per cent of employers in the UK offering no work experience of any kind, it means schools, colleges and universities must work harder than ever to develop links with the business community to ensure we produce the ‘work-ready’ and skilled labour force of the future.

Employers wanting to discuss work placements can call us on 01623 627191 ext. 8634.