Evidence suggests that students who undertake placements get better grades, are more employable and attract an earnings premium compared to other graduates.
It may be that it is a self-selecting subset of more engaged and energetic students who choose to do placements, nevertheless there are likely to be other factors which benefit students. It’s about the discipline essential to the workplace:
- regular involuntary start times and attendance
- measured productivity
- essential communication
- problem solving and the many other skills and attributes essential to employment.
Moreover the opportunity to make contacts in an industry is likely to be helpful, and in the case of sandwich students, an extra year may confer greater maturity. Employers benefit from the opportunity to work with enthusiastic graduates without having to make a long term commitment, and may gain a fresh perspective from someone who has been exposed to the latest research and thinking.
How can we make placements more attractive for business and students?
Challenges exist to make placements more popular, matching students and employers, encouraging employers to pay reasonable wages and to engage in proper development of their interns, and ensuring the students approach the placement in a professional way.
Fitting placements into already crowded curricula in ‘normally’ three-year degree programmes (here the Scots and Irish have an advantage!) and engaging effectively with employers to appropriately accredit the placements and confer value on them to the student.
Through the partnership between business and universities, the NCUB will encourage organisations to offer interesting and demanding internships and placements, whilst working with universities to embed the skills, learning and reflection that the student, and the employer, requires.