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Case study

Case study: Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)


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Developing industry placements in manufacturing

Industry placements at CPI build on and complement the organisation’s long-standing commitment to developing the next generation of talent in science and engineering.

With a workforce of over 400, CPI is an independent science and technology innovation centre based across 5 specialist centres in Teesside. It provides support for businesses, universities and individuals to develop and take to market the next generation of products and processes across a broad range of industries.

A member of the Science Industry Apprenticeship and Technical Education Group, CPI offers apprenticeships and undergraduate placements and undertakes STEM outreach activities across the region.

A Centre for Process Innovation employee oversees an industry placement student

Working with Middlesbrough College, CPI has provided industry placement opportunities for engineering students at its biotechnology site. Following an initial scoping meeting, the college identified suitable students based on their learning interests and the placements that CPI could offer. Review meetings at the mid-point and end of the placement have allowed CPI, the college and students to track and record progress throughout the placements.

“As a learning organisation, it’s all about developing skills and building a strong pipeline of talent to support the UK economy. Whether that young person then gains employment with CPI or somebody else, we've at least played a part in supporting them. The purpose of CPI is to help bring bright ideas and research into the marketplace faster. Building the skills and capability to deliver that is vital.”
Hayley Carter, L&D Business Partner, CPI

Hosting industry placements has been a learning curve for CPI as staff have adjusted to working with students who are in a technical work environment for the first time.

Being clear with host teams about what they can expect has enabled them to adjust their approach so that students develop a foundation of entry level skills and knowledge and can make a useful contribution. This might mean “going right back to basics to explain what it is we're doing, why we're doing it, how we do it.”

Using a mentoring approach to support placement students

Degree apprentices are assigned as mentors to support students to understand the basics of their role, including key areas like health and safety.

A “win-win” for the organisation, this approach also helps degree apprentices develop and demonstrate the leadership, planning and organisational skills that are needed to achieve their apprenticeship standard.

Mentoring on industry placements is an extension of CPI’s established mentor scheme, which provides training and support for staff across the organisation to take on mentoring roles.

Return on investment

Industry placements add value for CPI by:

  • developing the technical skills of the workforce of the future, to contribute to the UK economy
  • providing a potential pipeline into apprenticeships
  • providing opportunities for junior staff members to develop skills and experience in mentoring and supervision
  • raising its profile and influence as an industry leader for technical education development in both the Teesside area and the manufacturing and engineering industries

“We’re proud that we're involved with industry placements from the start, because I think if you get involved with them early, you've got that opportunity to support and shape them as well.”
Hayley Carter, L&D Business Partner, CPI


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