Making the most of work placements

Are you finding it hard to recruit the right person? Perhaps you're looking to bring new perspective to your business, fill a part-time vacancy or work on a special project.


Are you finding it hard to recruit the right person? Perhaps you’re looking to bring new perspective to your business, fill a part-time vacancy or work on a special project.

Are you finding it hard to recruit the right person? Perhaps you’re looking to bring new perspective to your business, fill a part-time vacancy or work on a special project. If so, where do you turn? The National Council of Work Experience (NCWE) believes the answer could be students.

Far from the stereotypical image of greasy-haired, traffic cone-stealing layabouts, students are the best of the future’s new talent, says the NCWE and urges Britain’s businesses to tap into this skills pool, while giving the students themselves the chance to ‘earn and learn.’

‘It’s important to stress that employers need to think carefully about what they want from a work experience placement,’ advises Liz Rhodes, director of NCWE. ‘Having the right, fresh pair of eyes on a project can be invaluable.’

Rhodes recommends that students be paid at least minimum wage for their efforts; after all, ‘they are doing something to benefit the business.’

She continues, ‘A longstanding problem has been that graduates leave university without having any understanding of the world of work. Putting a more vocational emphasis on studying will be good for business in general.’

The first step is to write a detailed job specification, as when advertising any vacancy. Next, advertise it through your local university, details of which can be found at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/CareersServices . Incidentally, it is recommended that no student works more than 15 hours a week but full-time is possible during holiday times, such as the summer.

Having interviewed and selected a candidate, it is necessary to set clear and realistic objectives. This includes:

  • Setting daily, weekly and monthly tasks

  • Giving direction

  • Identifying potential problems

  • Agreeing methods of assessment

  • Ensuring the work is relevant to the student

    ‘Employers must be conscious that the student is learning all the time as well as working productively. It should be a win-win situation,’ counsels Rhodes.

    More information and a toolkit on how to employ a student can be found at www.work-experience.org.

    (6/6/2005)

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