Over the last couple of years we have had the pleasure of working with a number of our Clients to fill graduate positions. The graduates we were looking for came from a variety of disciplines including Engineering, Business, HR and Finance. I have to say, all the graduates we met, were ,without exception, professional in all their communications and meetings with us. The graduates who stood out, though, were those who had completed work placements as part of their degrees.
Work placements should be part of every degree.They give the student a brilliant opportunity to gain organised, relevant working experience in their area of study. I realise most degree courses are very broad and the chance of putting much of what is learnt into practice is minimal. It’s a start though. It’s a start to figuring out what may be of interest and what definitely is not. It’s a start to understanding the workplace, the politics, the culture, the unwritten do’s and don’ts, the written do’s and don’ts. The success of the placement will obviously depend on the preparedness of the company to give as much relevant responsibility as possible to the student. It will also depend on the attitude of the student to take on whatever is thrown at them.
“Can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job” – no worries here if you graduate having completed a six or eight month work placement. The importance employers attach to work-related learning is evident to me in the success of such graduates getting jobs. It’s mad to think that a graduate with a fantastic qualification on paper, may not actually have set foot inside a workplace before they qualify. It really shouldn’t be that way. The third level system should be set up to facilitate and encourage students to take part in work placements, regardless of the degree. Work placements are an introduction to the world of work and should be included as a necessary module in any third level qualification.