Hosting an industry placement with another employer
Industry placements are a vital part of T Levels, giving students experience of applying the technical skills and knowledge learned in the classroom at work. By offering placements to the next generation, you can develop new talent, bring in fresh perspectives, and enhance your reputation as an excellent employer.
Industry placements are flexible so employers can design placements to suit their needs. They can take place at any time during the 2-year T Level course and can be for one or two days a week, for a block of time or a mix of the two.
They can also be split across two employers.
In a shared placement, the student works for two employers for an agreed number of hours to make up the complete placement.
This guidance is about how to host industry placements with another employer.
It has four parts:
- Why host a placement together? – examples of two employers sharing a placement, showing how students and employers can benefit.
- Who to share with and how – scenarios illustrating why employers choose to co-host an industry placement, how placements are set up, and the benefits to students.
- Planning a shared placement – a checklist of principles for how to plan a T Level industry placement with another employer.
- Further guidance – links to more information about hosting an industry placement with another employer.
The guidance also shows how providers can help to plan and manage the practical aspects of shared placements successfully.
Why host a placement together?
There are many advantages to offering shared placements. The examples below describe situations in which two employers host an industry placement together.
- Example 1 – two employers in the same industry and locality, but they do slightly different things
- Example 2 – two employers doing the same thing, but their work processes aren’t identical, and they have different workplace culture
- Example 3 – two employers are small businesses, and although both want to offer a placement, neither can give the student enough work to cover the full 350 hours
- Example 4 – two employers already collaborating closely, carrying out different processes in the same value chain
Example 1 – two employers in the same industry and locality, doing slightly different things
Employers in the same industry are often well placed to co-host placements because they cover different aspects of a profession.
A nursing home and a hospice both deliver end-of-life care in the same local area, but they do so in different settings. Shared placements allow T Level students to experience different but complementary aspects of the profession, giving them a more rounded view. This breadth of experience also increases the number of employment opportunities open to them when they finish their T Level.
As healthcare staff often work in or move between different settings, having young people entering the labour market with exposure to varied experiences is good for employers and for the sector in general.
Provider: “We want to give students a variety of experiences in two separate placements. When the placement is in different settings, the employers have a different ethos and ways of working, and we can adjust students’ goals and targets as they move between placements. Not only that, but students also get two references at the end, so it boosts their CVs and increases their employability for the future.”
Example 2 – two employers doing the same thing, but with different processes and cultures
Two employers in the same industry who do the same thing can also add value through a shared placement. Different workplaces, such as the finance office of a local authority and the local branch of a large commercial accountancy firm, may employ staff in similar roles. T Level students on a shared placement in an assistant accountant role carry out similar tasks in both places, but the work is organised and managed in different ways. Experiencing both environments means students will be more confident in applying for jobs. Employers benefit from being able to potentially recruit students later as apprentices, knowing they have a better understanding of how to work and behave professionally in a variety of contexts.
Example 3 – two small businesses wanting to offer a shared placement
Having a limited amount of work available or time to supervise need not be a barrier to small businesses offering placements, as this scenario of two small market garden businesses shows.
The two businesses are taking part in a scheme to supply their local community via weekly veg schemes and farmers markets. They offer a T Level student a shared placement to help set up and coordinate the scheme. This allows them to provide meaningful work for the whole of the placement time. It also gives the student experience of working in two different organisations, which helps them to adapt quickly to new working environments – a valuable skill when young adults in the UK change jobs up to six times in ten years. The businesses benefit from joint involvement in the scheme and by finding other possible ways of working together in future.
Provider: “We encourage students to have a conversation with their employers about when to have the block placements and when to put in more hours, including during holidays. But they do need to take a break, and some students have part-time jobs as well as needing to do the coursework for their T Level, so these placements aren’t full-time jobs even if the employers would sometimes want the students to work longer hours. We encourage them to do as many hours as they can but not to the point that it reduces their attendance and grades. It’s getting that balance right for each individual student.”
Example 4 – two employers carrying out different processes in the same value chain
Businesses which already work together may find it relatively easy and beneficial to co-host placements. In this example, one employer produces videos for advertising campaigns while the other specialises in customising content for different platforms.
They devise a joint project for a T Level student to research the client experience and identify how to improve joint working practices. The project puts the student at the cutting edge of an industry where flexibility and agility in working practices are increasingly widespread. The project also produces useful results helping the employers align their services more closely with client’s needs.
Who to share with and how
Employers who want to co-host an industry placement choose a second employer for many different reasons.
These three scenarios show how the placements are set up and highlight the benefits they can bring for students.
- Scenario 1 – a large employer hosts a project-based placement with a smaller employer in its supply chain
- Scenario 2 – one employer finds another in the same locality to share a placement student at specific times of year
- Scenario 3 – a regional industry group provides the forum for employers to set up partnerships to share placements
Scenario 1 – a large employer hosts a placement with a smaller employer
- Why? – Large employers sometimes build close relationships between staff in their own organisation and their suppliers. For example, the procurement team in one large employer has devised a project for a more efficient ordering process. As well as helping the larger business, collaborative projects are “a powerful tool for the small business that can fast-track growth,” according to an innovative business network. Therefore, it’s an excellent opportunity for the chosen supplier to consolidate an already valuable business relationship.
- How? – The project will be carried out by a joint team, involving a T Level student as project team member working with both employers. The large employer leads on setting up the placement with the supplier. The two organisations establish clearly defined responsibilities for the student within the project team.
- What’s the benefit to students? – “Broad work experience = deep understanding,” says an organisation promoting employment opportunities. Crossing between the two employers during the placement can give the student a broader perspective than working with a single employer and a better understanding of why and how organisations collaborate.
Scenario 2 – employers share placement students at specific times of year
- Why? – Many employers gear up for peak periods – accountants at the end of the tax year, retailers before Christmas and Easter, holiday firms in summer. Some also need to make use of less busy times, such as engineering firms supplying fewer components at certain times to fit in with manufacturers’ schedules. The production manager of one such employer sees that an industry placement could help with peaks and troughs and recognises that sharing the placement with another employer would give both firms greater flexibility.
- How? – After agreeing to host the placement together, the employers and their provider design a flexible placement of eight 2-week blocks: four focus on production and four on maintenance. Maintenance blocks are scheduled for specific weeks when downtime is known to occur. Production blocks take place in a two-month ‘window’ when each employer brings the student on site to help meet high levels of demand.
Provider: “We want to keep things simple for students and employers, so we try to make the cross-over period between placements as straightforward as possible. We come up with a new set of goals for students each time they change placements – which may be between Year 1 and Year 2 or between block placements, depending on the employers.”
- What’s the benefit to students? – “Maintenance and production often have a tense relationship which can be detrimental to the business,” says the owner of an engineering firm. The split design of this placement allows students to experience two aspects of work which are ideally part of a single skillset. The two aspects also require students to learn a different approach to work: application and attentiveness, which help to achieve production targets, plus analytical and problem-solving skills needed when dealing with maintenance issues. Showing that they have experienced both aspects increases the student’s value to prospective employers.
Scenario 3 – employers in regional groups set up sector-led industry placement partnerships
- Why? – Many employers, especially those who are growing quickly, are interested in the health of their regional economy. Some take an active interest in regional skills development. This includes strengthening the links between education and employment. Digital and creative media firms compete in a global market, so a regional approach is needed to supply enough people with advanced and specialist skills, many of them Generation Z entering the labour market in the 2020s.
- How? – One region set up a “skills network” to create links between digital and media firms and young people. The group has developed partnerships between employers, education providers and community groups to develop skills and job opportunities through work experience. Several employers are now combining to provide shared T Level industry placements to meet their needs.
- What’s the benefit to students? – Shared placements allow students to explore different facets of the industry. It also shows how closely inter-connected different specialisms are, and how important it is to work together in multi-skilled project teams. This can help them choose a career path matching their skills and aptitudes. Experiencing the excitement of an environment in which local firms cooperate as intensively as they compete may also give students a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the area, as well as to their choice of career.
Planning a shared placement
The checklist below lists seven core principles that apply to all T Level industry placements. It gives examples of how to put the principles into practice when planning to host a placement with another employer.
1. Gives students a realistic experience of what it’s like to be in a real-life job including:
Plan tasks, activities and projects together so that the work is complementary and students can:
2. Helps students to:
Understand the core and specialist knowledge, skills and behaviours that students are learning in the classroom and that can be applied during the placement.
3. Lasts at least 315 hours (except for Early Years Educator, where the minimum is 750 hours).
Decide the placement working pattern in each workplace – day release, block placement or a mix of both, and decide how the hours will be allocated between you.
4. Is organised to take place:
Give students information about the working patterns of both organisations, so they know what’s needed.
5. Only starts when students are prepared to enter your workplace, which includes:
Tell the provider what the minimum starting requirements will be for students in both workplaces, so they can carry out readiness assessments.
Provide a full induction in both workplaces.
6. Is accessible for all students, including:
Put in place arrangements for students with differing circumstances and needs, and make sure the approach is consistently supportive in both workplaces.
7. Is safe, which includes:
Clarify with the provider what your responsibilities as employers are for student’s safety and health while on the placement.