Skills beyond school

Engaging employers



The issue and scope

Employers will offer work placements to students in school-based vocational programmes if they feel the potential benefits outweigh the costs involved. In school-based programmes the on-the-job component typically covers a small, but meaningful share of learning time, which limits the potential for involving the student in the production process. Employers may have other reasons to offer work placements. For example, they may benefit from getting to know potential recruits, they may be keen to raise young people’s interest in a given occupation or a firm, or they may benefit from getting in touch with vocational schools in their area and communicating their skills needs to schools. From the school’s perspective, it is important to be able to find employers able to offer specific experiences of value to students at the right time in their learning process – and all at a minimal expense. The costs involved in offering work placements are different from those in apprenticeships, with often a smaller administrative burden, lower or no wage costs and fewer demands on the time of the firm’s other employees.  Understanding the drivers behind employer engagement in the provision of work placements can inform policy making, ensuring that placements which reflect the breadth of vocational learning are organised and regulated in a way that works also for employers.   

Examples of policy questions explored

  • How important is it for students to be placed in a workplace related to their training?
  • What are the benefits and shortcomings of work placements less related to the field of training?
  • What are the opportunities created by placements abroad?
  • How can employers be efficiently engaged to offer high quality experiences?
  • How can employers be incentivised to provide work placements for students in school based systems in parallel with apprenticeships/work based learning placements?

 See also:




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