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Promoting employer engagement opportunities to employers

Lead Institution: University of Bath

This is a sub-project of Strengthening, extending and embedding employer engagement

Project progress January 2012

This project has been running since October 2011.  This brief report outlines what has been done and what the next steps are over the next two months.

What has been achieved

The period Oct - Dec is a time when student projects have to be arranged for the second semester, so the majority of this initial time has been spent on evaluating the benefits of engaging students in projects.  The reports and promotional material have been published here.

A spreadsheet recording all engagement via placements and sponsorship has been completed and some analysis of the activities has been made.  In addition a summary of a number of placement visits has been written.  During these visits and the discussions with students, supervisors and HR personnel, we have tried to understand the benefits to the organisation of employing students on placement.  Such benefits can then be referred to in promotional material persuading other employers to engage with students. 

Findings so far indicate that suitable work for placement students must be at a level considered to be "varied, interesting and a little challenging" for undergraduate students.  Secondly, students are generally employed on a vast array of mini projects supporting production, different processes and evaluation of capital expenditure.  Although some time may be spent on front-line production or service delivery, the majority of time is spent on support.  In every case visited, the added value that the student creates is greater than the cost of the student, and that is allowing for a period for training. Whilst challenging the student in the workplace, this is an opportunity for the employer (and the student) to assess the suitability of recruitment.  More and more employers are only recruiting from the placement pool, which means adjusting the recruitment process from graduates to undergraduates - this is true for both the employer and the student/institution.

Other benefits of employing students include rejuvenation of the working atmosphere, personal development and satisfaction of trainers, novel insights into problems and, from time to time, contribution of up to date methods.

Next steps

Knowing what students are likely to do in both projects and placements and the certain benefits that accrue from such engagement (with cases to prove it), we will design online and printed media that promotes such engagement to employers who are currently not so familiar with the process. 

Time will be spent on visiting more companies particularly in other disciplines to gather more cases, and also to verify the premises described above.

Draft themes for promotional media will be presented early since it takes time to develop the material and then test the response.






Staff involved

Graham Outram
Project lead, University of Bath