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The Careers and Employability Service connects local, national and international businesses with University of South Wales students and graduates. Thanks to the services we offer, we can help your organisation thrive and in turn drive growth in the economy.

Our aim is to make working with the University a straightforward and rewarding experience. We are always happy to build on our existing relationships with employers as well as hearing from organisations who have never worked with us before.

Download the Employer Guide in English or in Welsh

Best practice guide

A work placement is a period of temporary work, where students have the opportunity to gain experience working within a company. The aim of a placement is to bridge the gap between academic study and vocational graduate experience. Giving students the opportunity to apply the theory and skills gained during their degree to a period of practical and professional work. There is a variety of types of placement. These include:

  • 30-70 hour integrated placements
  • 10 week internships
  • sandwich year placements
  • summer placements

This guide aims to provide best practice suggestions when taking on a work placement student.

Benefits for the employer

  • With a diverse community of students based on campuses located across South Wales, the University of South Wales is a hub of skills, knowledge and experience that can add value to your business.
  • Our students are studying courses rooted in the real world. They can make a valuable contribution to your organisation from day one – whether you’re in the private, public or third sector.
  • The University’s Careers and Employability Service has a dedicated team of professionals and offers a range of services to support your organisation’s recruitment campaigns and plans for the future.

 Benefits for students

  • Improves future job prospects – students are able to build their CVs.
  • Use and develop skills valued by employers – students will have the opportunity to build on existing skills and learn new skills.
  • Develop your professional network – students can develop their LinkedIn network which can be beneficial in finding out about future opportunities.
  • An opportunity to try out a specific area of work or career idea.
  • The potential for students to earn. 

Things to consider before offering a work placement

  • Aim of the placement – what will the role be and how will the work placement student contribute to the company’s goals? Is your company looking to fill a need on a specific project?
  • What would you expect the student to have achieved on completion?
  • Who will be responsible for mentoring/supervising the student?

Health and Safety

Under health and safety law, work placement students are your employees. They should be treated no differently to regular employees. Appropriate employers’ liability and public liability insurance should be in place and comply with the UK health and safety legislation.

What you need to do:

  • If you have fewer than five employees you are not required to have a written risk assessment.
  • If you are taking on a work placement student for the first time, or one with particular needs, review your risk assessment before they start.
  • For placements in low-risk environments, such as offices or shops, with everyday risks that will mostly be familiar to the student, your existing arrangements for your regular employees should suffice.
  • For environments with risks less familiar to the student, you will need to make arrangements to manage the risks. This will need to include induction, supervision, site familiarisation, and any protective equipment needed.
  • For a placement in a higher-risk environment such as construction, engineering and manufacturing you will need to consider what work the student will be doing or observing, the risks involved and how these are managed.
  • When you induct students, explain the risks and how they are controlled, checking that they understand what they have been told.
  • Check that students know how to raise health and safety concerns. 

What do students look for in a work placement?

A positive and successful work placement should:

  • Offer challenging projects and tasks.
  • Give them a broad exposure to the organisation.
  • Provide supervision and mentoring.
  • Set clear goals and objectives for the student to achieve.

Remuneration

While it is not a legal requirement, remuneration is highly recommended for placements that last longer than two weeks (70hrs) and is increasingly seen as best practice. An industry appropriate paid work placement is more likely to ensure that you are able to attract more students to your opportunities. It will also ensure that your programme is inclusive by removing financial barriers for those who are less able to cover costs associated with working, such as travel, food and suitable clothing.

Other forms of benefits that can attract a student may include:

  • Paid accommodation
  • Free/discounted food
  • Training
  • Contributions towards study costs

Induction

It is vital that the work placement student is inducted in to your organisation the same way as a regular employee. To get the maximum benefit form the placement it is crucial that you explain the way the business operates in order for the student to contribute form the beginning. The following kinds of information can be provided within the first few days:

  • What is the history of your organisation?
  • Who are your customers/stakeholders?
  • What are the organisation’s current objectives?
  • How may the student contribute to those objectives?
  • How should they process requests?
  • How do the email and telephone systems work?
  • What health and safety process do they need to know about?
  • Are there security or confidentiality issues of which the student should be aware?

Key responsibilities

Role description

  • Offer a clear description of the tasks the student will be expected to perform.

Content and Development

  • Ensure that the student is fully inducted and receives appropriate support and training in order for them to complete their assigned tasks.
  • Utilise the student’s skills by assigning suitably challenging tasks, but also limit the assignment of excessive unskilled tasks.

Supervision

  • Assign a supervisor to mentor and support the student.
  • The supervisor should organise regular sessions to check progress and offer guidance where applicable.
  • An induction programme should be organised by the assigned supervisor and a discussion of mutual expectations should take place during this period.

Working environment and Company culture

  • Welcome the student and make them feel part of the team.
  • Celebrate the student’s contributions and achievements in order to boost their confidence.
  • An appropriate work station needs to be provided to the student so that they are able to access all the resources they need to complete their assigned tasks.

AGCAS Guide on Recruiting International Graduates

AGCAS have produced a guide to help employers who are considering recruiting international graduates from UK universities. Its aim is to provide an overview of the key schemes in place in April 2016.

This does not, of course, replace the need for employers to seek their own legal advice in these matters but we hope this guide goes some way to demystifying the immigration options available to international graduates and the employers who wish to recruit them.

Guide for recruiting international students and graduates