Industrial attachment and work placement encompass a rather formal placement of trainees and students in the workplace with the primary objective of achieving a set of specified learning outcomes that can potentially lead to their employability on completing their education. With the growing challenge with graduates obtaining employment after completion, industrial attachment provides an avenue for students to gain the experience required by employers. With employers continually showing interest in graduates with work experience, industrial attachment is an effective tool that can be accessed to achieve a high level of employability.
This article aims to evaluate the concept of industrial attachment and work placement and its related benefits.
INDUSTRIAL ATTACHMENT AND WORK PLACEMENT
Work experience and workplace skills can be obtained through formal or informal placement which provides an avenue for maximum learning value towards graduate employability. In view of this, experience gained and skills acquired can be used for a job application or during an interview. Clearly, higher education has been identified to lag behind in the areas of imbibing and teaching the required skills and knowledge for employment (Brookes and Hughes, 2001). In view of this, the idea of industrial attachment and work placement has been identified to bridge this gap. Vocational education aims to continually provide graduates with experience, knowledge and skills to the employer. None the less, without the component of industrial attachment and work placement, vital and integral skills required in the working environment are not achievable. Industrial attachment and work placement are hence, saddled with the responsibility of strengthening the effective teaching and learning of skill – based courses such as vocational education (Awojobi, 2002).
A critical evaluation of the skills and knowledge that employers wish to see in graduates can be categorized as follows (Brookes and Hughes, 2001): self-reliance skills (This includes the ability of the individual to work independently as well as the ability of the prospective employee to identify his or her strengths and contribute to completing assigned tasks); People skills (This identifies interpersonal skills coupled with effective communication in both writing and communicating in person as well as active involvement in team work); General skills (This includes basic skills that can be used in various departments especially in the bid to show flexibility, innovativeness and ability to adjust to new and challenging situations); and Specialist skills (These include knowledge and technical skills that are usually subject – specific).
Undertaking industrial attachment and work placement in vocational education come with several benefits. These include gaining knowledge. Knowledge gained can be enriched by new perspectives, experience and commercial awareness through industrial attachment (Davies, 2014). This contributes to a graduate obtaining knowledge and skills from other sources apart from the classroom. Also, key skills can be developed through industrial attachment and work placement. Key employable skills which include problem – solving, team work, effective communication, time management among others can be learnt and improved upon through industrial attachment (Walter, 2012). Subsequently, new skills can also be learnt especially in the case of coping with pressure related with work.
Another benefit of industrial attachment and work placement helps the individual to explore other career options. In this case, the student is able to try out exactly what goes on in a particular line of work as well as identify the varying roles and responsibilities available in a particular industry of work. Based on this, the individual is able gather new ideas about other career options that they may wish to venture into on a full time basis or as a side job. Furthermore, industrial attachment and work placement contributes to increasing the level or extent to which a fresh graduate can secure a job in a rather highly competitive job search environment. Industrial attachment and work placement not only provide the graduate with added skills and knowledge but also provides a competitive advantage when during the application for a job (Awojobi, 2002).
Employers have consistently aimed to employ fresh graduates with some amount of work ethics and experience. Clearly, graduates with some level of industrial attachment and work placement experience related to the work and industry they apply for, have high chances of landing the job compared to a fresh graduate without such experience. Another benefit of industrial attachment and work placement also includes moving from one place to the other.
This implies that graduates who undertake industrial attachment and work placement get the opportunity to travel and work in different and unfamiliar environments. This helps provide them with the idea and concept of learning from different cultures as well as interact with people from diverse ethnic environment (Chappell and Johnson, 2003). Clearly, such situations help train global citizens who are poised at making contributions that help improve the products and services of the businesses they find themselves in, in future. Also, industrial attachment and work placement may be well paid. As such, a vocational student can use such funds to pay for part of their tuition and cost of living. However, this is not always the case.
Undertaking an industrial attachment and work placement provides work experience that helps demonstrate to employers that a prospective employee is ready for the corporate world (Walter, 2012). It also provides evidence that the graduate who is a prospective employee has a portfolio of transferable skills, an understanding and tends to also appreciate the commercial world as well as is also potentially inspired to undertake a particular career path. It is also imperative to know that employers, in the current world, aim to hire graduates who have the ability to combine academic achievements with practical hands – on experience required for the job.
It is important to know that a high quality industrial attachment and work placement must have qualities such as teaching the student new skills; highlighting the required set of skills for the industry; providing an avenue for the student to explore different career ideas whilst connecting with experts to provide advice and networking; providing ample information on the requirements of the particular career and its sector; demonstrate an interest in the type of work; provide evidence of motivation to undertake that work; and last but not the least provide a contact the student can ask for assistance as a referee (Chappell and Johnson, 2003).
Industrial attachment and work placement are integral aspects of the education and learning process for all students including vocational students at London School of Management Education (LSME). We endeavour to liaise with industries and workplaces to ensure that our students get the opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they have learnt. This tends to be an effective tool that can be used to bridge the gap between technical knowledge and the required skills to excel within any industry that a student wishes to work within upon completion.
It is important for students who undertake industrial attachment and work placement to put together a portfolio of work and projects that they contributed to during the attachment as well as outlining the various achievements chalked during the programme.
There is also the need for students to keep in contact with the people they meet during their industrial attachment and work placement as well as aim to improve the work – based skills acquired over the period.
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- Awojobi, A.O. (2002). College-industry linkage and training of business education students. Business Education Journal, III(5).
- Brookes, D.; and Hughes, M. (2001). Developing leading edge staff in vocational education and training. London: Learning and Skills Development Agency.
- Chappell, C.; and Johnson, R. (2003). Changing work: changing roles for vocational teachers and trainers. Adelaide, Australia: NCVER.
- Davis, p. (2004). Technical colleges and industry partnerships: advancing workplace learning and organisational effectiveness. Industrial and commercial training, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 121–24.
- Walter, D. (2012). Training on the job. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.