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Industry placement models for Construction

There are 3 typical models for placements: day release, 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 Construction?

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

  • do you operate a continuous service, with constant work throughout the year, so regular weekly hours would be best or is your work more project-based?
  • which sites or construction environments are suitable and safe for students to work in?
  • are there times of year when there are more opportunities for placement students, for example, daylight hours / better weather?
  • does the placement fit with the timing of the student’s course? Are there skills, such as using construction-specific software (like CAD) being taught during the course that could be of particular interest to you? Is it worth waiting for the student to have learned particular technical skills or knowledge for the tasks and projects you are likely to set on placement?

Placement models

(using c.350 average hours as examples)

Contents

Day release

Year 1: 1 day a week, for 10 weeks using 80 of the 350 hours

Year 2: 1 day a week, for 35 weeks using hours not used in year 1

When this model might work:

  • Sole traders or micro businesses that want continuity of support when apprentices are on day release at college
  • Construction roles that aren’t weather or season dependent, for example some design, surveying, plumbing and electrical roles

Examples

On-going on-site support

The student learned the plumbing basics at college, then started a 1 day a week industry placement with a small plumbing company from May of Year 1 through to June of Year 2. The employer coordinated the day so that it coincides with the company’s apprentice being at college.

In the first part of the placement, the student observed an experienced plumber and supported them with general tasks. In Year 2, the student worked more independently with lighter-touch supervision. This included installing appliances, pipework and engaging directly with clients.

Design, surveying and planning

The student joined the head office of a large construction company to learn more about design, surveying and planning, with the intention of progressing into an apprenticeship on completion of their course.

The student worked across the different departments 2 days a week, supporting staff, sourcing information and preparing documents for the technicians.

During Year 2 the employer and student talked about progression, and the student spent the remainder of the placement specialising in the surveying department, in preparation for becoming a Level 4 Surveying Technician apprentice.

Block

Year 1: 150 hours used of 350 hours

Year 2: 200 hours used of 350 hours

When this model might work:

  • Where concentrated work is needed to meet a specific deadline such as work that requires road or rail closures
  • Where placement blocks can be aligned to seasonal opportunities or business processes
  • On shared placements, where a main contractor wants students to experience working with a subcontractor

Examples

Civil engineer support for road project

A large construction company provided an industry placement in a single block to a student to support a particularly crucial phase of a road project.

The placement was delivered in a 9-week block in Year 2 once the student had acquired the skills and knowledge required to be productive on site.

The first week of the placement began in the regional office, where the student was given a thorough induction, undertook health and safety training and familiarised themselves with the plans for the upcoming phase of the project.

They then accompanied and supported a civil engineer for 3 weeks. For the remaining 5 weeks, they worked as part of the site office team of civil engineers keeping track of the project.

Housing development

A housing developer offered industry placements in blocks to a group of students as part of their section 106 agreement with the local council.

During the first block, the students spent time at the regional office understanding how a housing project works. The students were involved in team meetings, designing, procuring and managing the housing build.

During the second block, students worked alongside various tradespeople on-site to give them a real understanding of what each job involved and where they could see their future career.

In the third and final block, students were partnered with a specific subcontractor working on the site to learn more detailed aspects of the particular trade they were specialising in on their course.

Mixed

Year 1: An 80-hour block, followed by 8 hours day release weekly

Year 2: Weekly 8-hour day release, followed by final 40-hour block

When this model might work:

  • When it helps a student to thoroughly understand your organisation before undertaking regular tasks
  • When there is a mix of regular and project-based activities that can be worked into a placement

Examples

Bench joinery

A student was placed with a specialist joinery company to understand the craft better and support the bench joiners in the workshop.

The student started on a 2-week block where they were shown how to use equipment safely and observed both the bench joiners and the site installers. This gave them a sense of how the whole process came together.

After the 2-week block, the student worked on a weekly day-a week pattern, with the bench joiners in the workshop, who saved increasingly difficult tasks and projects for the student to complete.

During the final week of the placement the student was set a project to demonstrate the skills they had learned, creating a showpiece item they could use as part of their portfolio to demonstrate their skills to future potential employers.

Growing air conditioning company 

A growing air conditioning company that struggles to recruit, used mixed-pattern industry placements, developing them to support the maintenance department during the busy summer months.

Students started with day release over the winter where they joined the installation team and supported them to fit air conditioning units in office blocks and hotels.

As students started to contribute more to the business and gain an understanding for air conditioning, they were offered paid employment in the maintenance team during the summer months.

This paid employment motivated the students to keep working in the second year of their course and specialise in air conditioning, as they could see there are career opportunities in their local area.

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