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Skills beyond school

Structuring work placements

 

 

The issue and scope

Work placements can be incorporated into vocational programmes in different ways.  Students can take part in work placements on regular, but occasional bases, often one day per week over a year or several years. For example, this approach has been piloted recently in technical upper secondary education in Israel.  Students can also spend several weeks or months in block, typically either in the middle of the programme (e.g. sandwich courses) or at the end of the programme, as for example in vocational upper secondary education in Spain. In some countries both options are allowed, for example in Australian School-based Apprenticeships participants are released from school either a couple of hours a week or for a longer block of time to attend work and training. 

How work placements are structured affects the benefits that may be expected by students and employers from the experience. A placement undertaken at the end of the programme, for example, can allow students to put into practice skills learnt at school and connect with potential employers. Including short work placements throughout the programme or creating an on-the-job block in the middle of the programme may foster students’ motivation, building on and feeding into learning at school.

Examples of policy questions explored

  • What are different work placement provisions? What are the advantages and risks associated with different types of work placement?
  • At what age and stage of the programme should work placements be offered?
  • What should be their duration?
  • What are the costs of work placement provision?
  • How do outcomes from school based VET with work placements compare with outcomes from other comparable programmes (apprenticeships, school based VET without work placements)?
  • How to ensure that all students secure placements which are relevant to their studies?

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