Industry placement models for Catering
There are 3 typical models for placements: Day, Block and Mixed. As long as the total time for each placement adds up to a minimum of 315 hours (averaging 350 hours), you can adapt the models to suit your business needs, and to align with the student’s course.
The placement model will be agreed between you, the college or school, and the student. T Level students choose their specialism in Year 1. The placement can take place later in that year, or entirely in Year 2, or across both years.
Which model is best for you in Catering?
Questions you may want to ask yourself when determining which model best suits your organisation:
- how does the placement timing fit with the student’s course and their learning objectives?
- how skilled will you require the student to be prior to starting a placement with you?
- do you operate a continuous service, with constant work throughout the year, in which case regular weekly hours might be best or is your work seasonal in a way that makes a block model more attractive, for example, Christmas, summer, wedding season?
- are there times of year when staff will have more time to focus on industry placement student development?
(using c.350 average hours as examples)
Year 1: 1 day (8 hours) a week, for 20 weeks using 160 of the 350 hours
Year 2: 1 day a week, for 24 weeks using the remaining 190 hours
When this model might work:
- In a smaller organisation where the placement student can be matched to a supervisor / mentor throughout the industry placement
- Organisations with apprentices could align the off-the-job training day of the apprentice with the placement student or when students and apprentices can buddy up and work together
A small café provided an industry placement for a student keen to develop their catering skills.
The placement student needed excellent customer service skills, efficiency and a keen interest in food preparation. With several part-time staff working specific days each week, the student was offered a weekly shift each Friday for 8 hours.
This café, knowing that their placement student was attending each Friday, scheduled the student to work alongside their allocated mentor / supervisor to learn about food preparation across the full menu offered.
A hotel offers several apprenticeship opportunities each year and have recently introduced industry placements, in part, as a potential entry route for apprentices of the future. They created a day release industry placement model to match with the day when the apprentices attend college for their off-the-job learning.
This model provided a consistent level of staffing across each week and aligns with the courses for both types of student. The day release model also provided a consistency (of the same day each week) that simplifies the industry placement for the employer.
Year 1: A single block using 160 of the 350 hours
Year 2: A single block using the remaining 190 hours
When this model might work:
- To allow managers to schedule and plan for larger numbers of students to be engaged over a busy time period
- Seasonal trends in the sector where industry placements can be timed to coincide with peak demand
A major tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight has visitor trends with their peak business from April through to September each year.
They offered a block placement opportunity to 4 students each for 5 days per week for 4 to 5 weeks in both years of their course. The students worked in 4 of the food outlets (main café, VIP restaurant and fast food outlets) in the theme park, getting involved in all aspects of food preparation in each. The exact timeframe was agreed to fit with each of the student’s commitments and their course targets.
In this case it is an outdoor theme park offering diverse food preparation opportunities, but similar examples might include peaks in the year such as November and December in the hotel or restaurant trades or the summer months in hotels or restaurants in holiday destinations.
An outside catering company specialising in weddings sought to support the busy wedding season. They cater for large wedding parties providing all food and beverage requirements using a mixture of venue kitchens, preparation in their own kitchens and outdoor catering facilities.
They offered an industry placement on a block release model over 2 years as they have clear peaks in demand for wedding catering during May and June.
The block release model suited this busy period as the student had exposure to a variety of work and helped the student use the skills learned throughout their course.
Year 1: 1 day a week for 12 weeks, using 96 hours of the 350 hours
Year 2: 2 blocks using the remaining 250 hours
When this model might work:
- Where the employer requires the student to have a good level of skills prior to taking on a block of placement activity
- Where different employers within a chain require different patterns of placement to suit their staffing and work rotas
Large hotel chain
A large hotel chain offered industry placements to several placement students.
They offered a rotation so that each student gained experience in 4 different kitchens within the chain. 4 placements ran at the same time, but each establishment preferred different patterns of attendance.
2 preferred block release whilst the others preferred day release. The students each participated and rotated around the kitchens using a mixture of the 2 models. All gained a variety of excellent experience, meeting different chefs and co-workers and gaining a variety of insights across the chain.
All students fulfilled the full placement hours, while negotiating a mixture of day and block release opportunities across the 2 years.
Michelin star restaurant
This high-profile restaurant wanted to ensure that the placement students were inducted gradually into the workings of their kitchen.
They required a placement student to join them one day a week initially to get used to the high-pressured environment and exacting standards of food preparation.
They were then able to undergo an intensive period of block release in year 2.
This model supported the student to gain experience, resilience and competence in advance of contributing during the block release element of the placement. They are now enthusiastically pursuing a career in the industry.