How Industry Placements Work in Practice


Industry placements are an integral and central part of T Levels. As an employer hosting a placement, you’ll benefit from the fresh ideas, skills and enthusiasm of young people. Your staff are likely to enjoy helping them and will develop useful coaching and mentoring skills in the process. Students gain valuable experience from being at work and making real contributions to their team.

Hosting an industry placement is simple. Most of the methods used to select, onboard, train and support new staff or apprentices work well for T Level students too. Placements can largely be organised to suit the way you work and can be shared with other employers. There isn’t much paperwork, and the student’s college or training provider will work closely with you to design the placement and make sure it runs smoothly.

Thousands of employers have already hosted T Level industry placements. Their experience is overwhelmingly positive. Many have found it so beneficial that as well as continuing to offer placements they are scaling up the numbers. Many students they previously hosted in a placement are now employed as apprentices or plan to come back and work with them after university. The experiences of these employers and young people is reflected in this resource. 


Who this resource is for

  • Employers who are thinking about hosting industry placements but haven’t made up their minds yet.
  • Managers involved in planning placements.
  • Staff who are supporting students on placements for the first time.
  • Staff who may be involved with placements in future.

About the resource

This resource gives a clear and realistic picture of why employers host an industry placement and how they go about it. It shows employers organising placements, selecting and onboarding students, and supporting them during the placement. 

It contains:

  • A video featuring employers, staff and students talking about placements.
  • Potential challenges that employers may face when hosting a placement and how they can be resolved.
  • Signposts to the other resources that are likely to be most useful to you at this stage of your industry placement journey. 

You can use it to:

  • Decide when and where to host a placement – or several placements – in your organisation;
  • Show people in the organisation how placements work;
  • Explain the benefits of hosting students to departmental managers and staff;
  • Start thinking about placement opportunities and the task that could be included.


Video – Industry placements in practice

These short videos share the real experience of hosting T Level students on industry placements, so that more employers can develop the know-how and confidence to host students themselves.

They are aimed at employers who are:

  • Thinking about offering an industry placement for the first time
  • Offering placements already and planning to host more students in future.

Watch the videos to see the experience of employers, staff, students and providers as they take part in industry placements. There are seven videos. Click on the first to watch them all straight through without a break, or click on each one to watch it separately:

  1. How industry placements work in practice
  2. Why employers value industry placements
  3. How employers host industry placements
  4. How staff onboard students
  5. How staff support students
  6. Mentoring and buddying
  7. What students gain.



Potential challenges and how to resolve them

The table below lists some of the challenges employers sometimes face when hosting a placement. It suggests how they can be resolved and which delivery approaches you could use to help resolve them.

Challenges How to resolve them Delivery approaches
We want to avoid putting staff under extra pressure Students are an ‘extra pair of hands’ who can help to relieve the pressure of work, especially at busy times where they can take some of the load off hard-pressed staff. Students with part-time jobs can count the time towards their placement hours, provided the work they do is relevant to the T Level.
We don’t have enough staff to support students Students quickly learn what to do and usually need little more support than any other new or recent recruit. Colleagues in their team can supply much of the support so it doesn’t all fall on the shoulders of team leaders or line managers. Many employers find that apprentices or interns make excellent support staff for placement students, being closer in age – and they often relish the chance to develop their leadership skills, Getting students to work together on a small team project means that staff can support a whole group of students at once. Projects don’t have to be based on your site, as long as the students are supported by an industry professional. 
Our work environment isn’t suitable for students Hosting a student on an industry placement is similar in many ways to taking on a new recruit or an apprentice. If you support them to work in your environment, you can use the same processes to support students. Students can spend part of their placement with partners in your supply chain who may have more suitable premises. In some T Levels, students can spend time in a skills hub or training centre to make sure they are ready for the work environment.
We need people who already have the skills to do the work Students will have already learned some of the technical knowledge and skills needed before they start their placement with you. Experience shows that they will quickly learn the specific skills to help them be productive in your organisation. Work tasters allow employers to assess students’ skills and knowledge before selecting them for a placement. Students on some T Levels (not all) can spend time in a skills hub or training centre to improve their readiness for the real working environment.
We’re unsure about what’s involved and anxious about the responsibility of hosting? Other resources in this set will help by showing what host employers do. Much of the responsibility is shared with the colleges or training providers you work with. Work tasters and setting small team projects are a great way to start building knowledge and confidence. Students can also split their placement hours between two employers.


What now?

Decide which questions below best describe the stage you are at in your industry placement journey. Click on the relevant links to go to other resources in this set that can help.

  • Do you want to know more about what to expect from students in terms of their caliber, motivation and ability to contribute? Go to ‘What you can expect from students on industry placements’.
  • Are you already hosting placements and thinking about continuing or expanding the number of placements you offer? Go to ‘What to do if you already host industry placements and want to continue or expand’.
  • Are you thinking about hosting a student for the first time and want to feel more confident about setting up and managing the placement? Go to ‘What to do if you are thinking about hosting industry placements for the first time’.
  • Are you a small or medium-sized organisation? Do you want to know why you’ll benefit from hosting an industry placement and how to manage it successfully? Go to ‘Why so many small and medium-sized organisations are hosting industry placements’. 
  • Do you work in an IT or digital business? Do you employ IT or digital specialists or have a digital team within your organisation? Go to ‘Why you should think about hosting students doing digital T Levels’.
  • Do you work in an engineering or manufacturing business or employ people with engineering and production skills? Go to ‘‘Why you should think about hosting students doing engineering and manufacturing T Levels’.


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