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The changing face of work-based placements

29 November 2017

Change can be a daunting experience, especially when the future is unknown. However, for many, change can come with a multitude of benefits. Here, Lucy Speed, HR advisor at engineering solutions provider, Boulting Group, explains the important role work-based placements have on the evolving engineering sector

Change can be a daunting experience, especially when the future is unknown. However, for many, change can come with a multitude of benefits. Here, Lucy Speed, HR advisor at engineering solutions provider, Boulting Group, explains the important role work-based placements have on the evolving engineering sector. 

The way in which people are entering the field of engineering is changing. For many years, apprenticeships were often the top choice for those embarking on a new career, as the hands-on experience allowed them to build on-the-job knowledge, while earning a wage.

For many years, the engineering sector has thrived on the talent produced by apprenticeships, but as organisations diversified, offering new products and services, the skills required of new employees has also had to change. 

With the demand for higher education increasing among 18-year olds, many young people are heading to university to gain relevant engineering qualifications. While they may leave with a degree and knowledge of the sector, we find that applicants quite often lack any real practical experience. For this reason, project-based work experience and placements are becoming increasingly important. 

A project-based placement allows a student to develop practical experience that supports the learning and theory they have gained as part of their studies. At Boulting Group, the project they work on is dependent on their experience, as we aim to make the placement as relevant as possible. 

Upon starting a placement, each student is assigned to a member of the project team who will support them. The individual will shadow their mentor, attending site visits, client meetings and be assigned specific tasks to complete for that project. 

These activities allow students by put their knowledge into context, giving them the skills to tackle real-life work situations, find solutions  and develop a career in engineering. The process also allows us to provide a structured learning development programme with a future career path in mind. 

Our Warrington office has worked closely with Liverpool John Moores University to reinforce the benefits of placements amongst its students. One of the key challenges for universities is to focus on employability and to provide students with the skills and behaviours they need to transition from their studies in to the workplace. 

By working more closely with schools, colleges and universities, we hope to tackle this issue head-on. If the sector does not diversify its workforce and fails to attract new talent, the skills gap will never be resolved and the industry will suffer.  

With so much talent emerging, we see a bright future for the engineering industry and believe change, in this instance, is for the better. 

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