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Industry placement models for Digital and IT

There are 3 typical models for placements: Day, Block and Mixed. As long as the total time for each placement adds up to a minimum of 315 hours (and on average we expect placements to be around 350 hours), you can adapt the models to suit your business needs, and to align with the student’s course.

The placement model will be agreed between you, the college or school and the student. T Level students choose their specialism in Year 1. The placement can take place later in that year, or entirely in Year 2, or across both years.

Which model is best for you in Digital and IT?

Questions you may want to ask yourself when determining which model best suits your organisation:

  • how does the timing of the placement fit with the student’s course and their learning objectives?
  • do you operate a continuous service, with constant work throughout the year, so regular weekly hours would be best or is your work project-based?
  • are there times of year when your IT equipment is more readily available for placement students?
  • does the placement fit with the student’s course? Are there software or systems being taught during the course that could be of interest to you?

Placement models

(using c.350 average hours as examples)

Contents

Day release

Year 1: 2 days a week, for 10 weeks using 160 of the 350 hours

Year 2: 2 days a week, for 12 weeks using hours not used in year one

When this model might work:

  • In a team where on-demand services are delivered directly to users and customers
  • Where students can contribute to supporting IT infrastructure that requires regular maintenance or updating
  • For projects that work on a predictable cycle such as creating or posting web site or social media content

Examples

Retail

Attending 2 days a week, the student supported internal customers in this large retail chain, as part of the IT support team.

In the first part of the placement the student observed and supported an experienced member of the team with responding to user enquiries and maintaining customer response database records.

In Year 2 the student worked more independently with lighter-touch supervision, to support staff with hardware, software and technology products for customers.

IT services help desk

The student joined the IT Support Desk of a legal firm, starting with a block of 2 weeks and then changing to 2 days a week.

Initially the student joined the team to understand the organisations’ systems and software. The student then handled quick fixes and was slowly introduced to more business critical and complex systems.

By the end of the placement the student was “just another member of the team”.

Block

Year 1: A single block using 150 of the 350 hours

Year 2: A single block using the remaining 200 hours

When this model might work:

  • Where concentrated work is needed to meet a specific deadline such as intensively writing code for a programming assignment
  • Where placement blocks can be aligned to project lifecycles or annual business processes
  • To allow managers to schedule and plan well in advance for multiple placements

Examples

Large bank and a national customer of the bank

This shared placement gave more than 20 students insights into how the bank operates, how its systems are created and maintained and how they were used by customers.

During their time in the bank, attention was at first given to understanding risk, data security, GDPR and the bank’s regulated operating environment. Students experienced several areas of operation including data analysis, web services and compliance.

The bank and its customers preferred the block model with a larger cohort of students, that they could plan and prepare for well in advance and manage as a group. The bank found the insight into what is being taught to young digital students “eye opening” and had many examples of ‘reverse mentoring’ with students, surprising bank staff with their fresh thinking.

Software development

This coding and software engineering company invited 2 students to join a development team, during a large-scale project for a major multi-year event management organisation.

The students were involved at the start, middle and end of a software development project, using Agile and Scrum methodologies.

Students saw how the project vision and roadmap were created, were part of several sprints and were assigned simple tasks that contributed to the project’s success, taking on increasingly complex tasks in the second year as their skills developed.

Scrum's clearly defined framework and fixed progress reviews fitted well with the placement blocks.

Mixed

Year 1: 2 days a week for 5 weeks, using 80 hours of the 350 hours

Year 2: A block using the remaining 270 hours

When this model might work:

  • Where a mix of regular and project-based activities can be worked into a placement
  • When it helps a student to understand your organisation in a phased way, building involvement as the student develops

Examples

Social media team in a large travel company

Placement students assisted the social media unit in this large youth travel organisation, to develop live briefs for website development and to rebrand and redesign their offer.

Students’ understanding of the company’s customers was especially useful to the employer who found their fresh insights fed directly into their social media posts and had immediate impact. In Year 1, their regular weekly attendance was aligned to social media content production.

During their block they developed skills in app creation. The apps which they contributed to developing now form part of the companies’ permanent service to young people abroad. Following their block placement, 2 students have now been employed by the digital companies and the apps they created are part of the companies’ permanent service to young people abroad.

Creative media production

3 industry placement students worked as part of the digital marketing team contributing to 2 campaigns, 1 in each year.

Students were involved at different stages with campaign planning; testing possible messages, and value propositions with customers; and analysing data to understand why and how customers were engaging with email marketing, social media and websites.

Students were involved in increasingly complex work, building skills and confidence across the 2 years. The agency invested in the students and were on hand to offer professional and personal guidance.

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