Sheffield Business School and Nestlé: combining study with work to develop a new generation of food industry employees

Sheffield Business School and Nestlé: combining study with work to develop a new generation of food industry employees

The unique Nestlé Fast Start Degree Programme provides students with paid work experience and a guaranteed job at the end of their course.

This case study originally appeared on page 65 of the State of the Relationship 2014 report. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

The Nestlé Academy Fast Start programme, which has been co-created by Sheffield Hallam University and Nestlé, sees school leavers combining part-time study for a work-based learning BA (Honours) Professional Business Practice Degree and full time employment in Nestlé’s commercial functions. Successful applicants to the programme divide their time between studying with Sheffield Business School (SBS), attending the University for on average six one-week blocks per academic year, and gaining full-time work experience across a broad range of commercial roles at the Nestlé offices at Gatwick and York. Students earn a marketbased salary as well as having their course fees paid for by Nestlé and are guaranteed a job at the end of the three-year degree. This scheme is the first of its kind in the food industry.

The course has been developed using the SBS Flexible Framework which allows a full programme of learning to be created that meets the exact requirements of the client organisation. In order to develop the detailed content of modules, academic staff have worked closely with key stakeholders within the Nestlé business to understand key issues and challenges of the industry and the business and make sure these are addressed through the students’ learning experience. The course has also been aligned with Nestlé’s own Leadership Framework. Being work based, assessment is designed to get students to apply their learning to workplace issues and challenges. The course culminates in students undertaking a major consultancy project within the business.

One of the challenges of delivering the course was the timescale from the contract being awarded to the predetermined date of commencement of the course, which left the partners with just six months to put together the course structure, scope and develop modules and develop the learning materials. Having the flexible Professional Business Practice Framework meant the usual time delay of validating a new award was avoided. Coordinating scoping meetings between the University and Nestlé staff also presented a challenge but the use of video-conference facilities helped to overcome the dispersed geographical locations of some of the stakeholders.

Recruitment to the first intake of the course took place over a very short time period which again was quite challenging. The University worked closely with Nestlé on this activity, both promoting the opportunity and supporting the assessment centre process. For the next intake of students this process has started off much earlier on in the year.

Although only four modules into the first year of the course, feedback from everyone involved has been extremely positive and the University and Nestlé have already contracted for a further intake of students in September 2014.

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