Ahead of the Game… Sandwich Education & Training
Students must use their time in education to the best means possible, making them more employable when they leave their course and ahead of the game in today’s competitive job market!
Students stay in education for a variety of reasons. Some because they are interested in their subject of study or they want to experience University/College life but the majority do so because they want to get a good job and they see a Degree or a Higher National Diploma as the way to get it.
Undertaking a course in Higher Education will enable students to develop both academic skills and personal skills but these skills alone do not guarantee a good job. In today’s competitive job market one should also be aware of the need to develop the skills employers want.
Employers look for personal and work related skills which include:
- communication skills – both written and verbal
- interpersonal skills eg team working ability
- problem solving and time management
- personal and career management skills
Work experience/placement will help you develop these skills and in this way you match what the employers are looking for. The experience can also help you develop an understanding of the world of work and an awareness of your own skills and abilities.
Many courses in Higher Education are designed to incorporate time out on placement with a ‘host provider’. A wide variety of terms are used to describe this process.
Sandwich Placement - May vary in length from short 3 months – to longer 12 month placements in industry and cover a range of subject areas including, Business and Management, Social Sciences, Art and Design, Humanities, Science, Engineering & Technology, The Built Environment, Hospitality & Tourism.
Clinical Placement - Common to Medical & Health Science courses which may vary from 2 week ‘blocks’ to longer term.
Professional Practice - In a variety of professional/vocational courses including teaching and social work.
Different terms may apply but the methods used are all aimed at enabling students to apply theory in practice. The main objectives of the placement/work experience programmes are to:
- Enhance students’ familiarity with the world of work
- Assist students evaluate and understand how work experience relates to their personal/career and future professional development
- Develop employability skills
- Gain knowledge about how organisations work
- Strengthen the application of theory to practice
- Learn new skills
- Identify with a professional role
Personal skills which students may develop include:
- Increased motivation
- Entrepreneurial skills
- More focused career choice
- Self management
- Team skills
- Communications skills
- Problem solving
- Specialist occupational skills
It may be a consideration when you choose a course that you choose it because it has placement/work experience as an integral part of the programme of study but you must consider all aspects of the course. There is no short cut to finding the right course. You are going to spend 3/4 years of your life studying at an institution so it is up to you to decide what suits you and best matches your future career plans.
If you choose a course which does not have a formal placement there are many ways to gain experience which will help build employability skills.
- Part time work and term time work
It is very easy to see casual work as a financial necessity rather than a learning experience but all work experience can provide the opportunity for personal and career development.
- Vacation employment at home or abroad
Vacation employment may enable you to travel to another country and experience living away from home but also allow you to spend time working with the type of organisation you may eventually hope to work in.
- Involvement in clubs, societies, sports, committees
By taking on positions of responsibilities or playing an active role as a member of any of the above you can develop valuable key skills.
Voluntary work will not just provide the opportunity to gain experience but also provide a useful first step into a wide range of social and community work.
- All work experience is valuable as long as you learn something from it
- There are a variety of forms of work placement/experience available in Higher Education
To get the most from the experience it is worth taking some time out before you start to consider the type of experience you wish to gain.