Work experience is vital for students wanting graduate careers in industrial companies according to ‘The Year in Industry’, the leading working gap year programme for students contemplating a leadership career in UK Industry. The charity EDT which runs ‘The Year in Industry’ is currently recruiting for placements from September 2013 and points to evidence that the top 100 graduate employers, which includes most of the major UK industrial employers, highly value the work experience of potential recruits, particularly that undertaken with their own company.
Chris Ward, National Director for the Year in Industry says, “Research undertaken with the top 100 graduate employers¹ shows that over a third of graduate jobs are filled with people who have worked for these major companies before, either through internships, work experience programmes or vacation work. Looked at another way, a third of top graduate jobs are effectively pre-empted by candidates who understand and have experienced the environment in which they will work, and that the company has had the opportunity to observe within that work environment. This confirms the Year in Industry’s own experience of working with major science and engineering companies on work experience placements after which many companies seek to maintain contact with the placement students with a view to future employment.”
Further research with final year students in June 2013² has confirmed this emphasis on work experience, as some 36% of students with work placement experience had received at least one definite job offer by Easter of their final year, compared with just 11% of other undergraduates.
‘The Year in Industry’ places students with 300 top UK companies every year and so is the UK’s leading student placement expert. The research underlines the experience of ‘The Year in Industry’ in which around 25% of gap year placement students each year are offered sponsorship arrangements for university by their hosting company. This will normally involve financial support and the arrangement that the student will work for the company during vacations and return to spend the first few years of their career with the sponsoring company.
Ward says, “In these days of financial uncertainty and high student fees, the value of sponsorship cannot be underestimated. Even before setting foot in a university these students have short term financial security and a job in a top company to look forward to upon graduation. We also find that many of those who aren’t offered scholarships still maintain a relationship with their placement company, often returning for vacation work and therefore having a good chance of securing a graduate position.”
“However”, Ward continues, “spending a year in industry is not just about future employment. It is also about future employability. The reason work experience is so highly valued by top companies is because students learn soft skills which they otherwise don’t have the opportunity to gain; skills such as project management, team working, presentation skills and time management. A gap year spent building these skill sets is invaluable in later careers and therefore employers will look for evidence of these skills in potential graduate recruits.”