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Science industry placements - Enrolment



This section of the toolkit can help you write placement role descriptions and manage the process of matching students to placements. It contains templates and examples to help:

  • the provider, student, and employer make successful placement matches
  • consider which aspects of the enrolment process you want to review
  • make sure that T Level students understand the placement options available and are successfully matched with an appropriate employer.

How to use these resources

Select the relevant resource for your needs: 

  1. What to expect from an industry placement in science – placement role description template and examples
  2. Matching students to placements – template and examples of different approaches
  3. Matching students to placements – checklist and template

Decide whether the templates can be used as they are or should be altered to suit your organisation. 

Who are they for?

Share the templates and examples with staff who are involved in helping students to select appropriate placements:

  • staff in employer engagement
  • T Level course leaders and tutors.

What to expect from an industry placement in science

A placement role description provides an overview of the science placement on offer. It should be agreed with the employer and can be used to:

  1. give students a clear picture of the role and what to expect
  2. help them decide whether it matches their interests and meets their expectations
  3. match students to the roles most suitable for them.

Template: placement role description

Example 1: Lab Technician - placement role description

Placement role description
The employer University Science Laboratory
The employer’s business Higher education
The placement role Lab Technician
The kind of work you will do
  • Mix reagents
  • Undertake tests
  • Maintain lab equipment
  • Calibrate equipment
  • Stock control
  • Keep records
The skills you will use
  • Benchwork
  • Testing
  • Transferring and recording data
  • Writing scientific reports
  • Following Good Scientific Practice (GSP)
The attitudes you should have
  • Following procedures carefully and precisely
  • Attention to detail
  • Prioritising work tasks
  • Working with others
Who you will work with
  • Senior Technologists
  • Scientists
  • Academic Staff
Hours and pattern of work
  • 0800-2000
  • Weekdays

Example 2: Research Trainee - placement role description

Placement role description
The employer’s business Scientific Research Establishment
The placement role Research Trainee
The kind of work you will do
  • Designing questionnaires for clinical trials or surveys
  • Analysing data sets

The skills you will use

  • Computer data handling
  • Analysis
  • Identification of process errors
The attitudes you should have
  • An open mind
  • Respect for evidence – reliance on fact
  • Honesty and objectivity
  • Restraint – not rush to conclusions
  • Willingness to change opinions
  • Questioning approach
  • Tolerance of uncertainty
Who you will work with
  • Scientists
  • Researchers
Hours and pattern of work
  • 0800-2000
  • Weekdays

Matching students to placements – process and template

Matching students to placements is an 8-stage process. The descriptions and examples provided are drawn from the experience of providers and employers offering science placements.

This template can be used to:

  1. plan the matching process
  2. help students apply for suitable placements
  3. give providers and employers ideas about what to look for when matching students to placements.

Template: the process for matching students to placements

Examples: the process for matching students to placement

Matching student to placement
Process Description and examples
Competitive application An industry placement is a short period of work, where the student experiences the reality of being in the workplace.  A competitive application process mirrors the experience of real employment. It also allows students to identify which placements they would value most and to ‘sell themselves' to the employer as the best candidate.
CV preparation and presentation Most employers want to see a student’s CV as part of the placement application. A CV should be tailored to the placement job role. Presenting a CV together with a cover letter allows the student to highlight specific experiences or attributes relevant to the placement.
Interview Interviews are a key stage in the enrolment process, as this example shows:

The Sainsbury Laboratory carries out research to combat plant diseases and accelerate breeding. It offers placements to T Level science students in its research laboratory. Students applying to the placements are given a booklet to help them prepare for the interview. Each booklet is tailored to a specific placement.

Booklets contain sample interview questions in three categories:
  • Common questions such as ‘Tell me a bit about yourself’, or ‘Why are you interested in this placement?’
  • Technical questions such as ‘Describe plant pollination’ or ‘You will be required to do PCR experiments -explain what PCR is’
  • Administration questions such as ‘Do you have any questions for us’ or ‘Do you have any holidays booked during the placement period?’
Students are recommended to use the ‘STAR ‘model when answering questions:
image showing START model - Situation-Task-Action-Result
Showcasing skills Showcasing their skills to potential employers gives students the chance to show what they can do and talk to the employer about how their skills can benefit the organisation. For example, students able to show that they can follow procedures carefully and precisely should use this experience to demonstrate an interest in science and a certain level of skills.
Site visit Site visits to employers help students gain first-hand knowledge of what is expected in the work environment. This could include basic information such as location, transport links, number of people in the workplace, facilities provided, etc. Site visits can also include job-shadowing and other work taster activities.
Open days By attending provider open days employers can meet students informally and give them a better sense of what a placement involves:
  • Employers regularly visit Nelson and Colne College and present information on the nature of the work and the available roles.
  • North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College hold virtual events at which employers present to students.
  • Ajar Technology visit Cranford College regularly so that the personnel and the business become familiar to students before they start choosing their placements.  
Placement search Students can find their own placements if they are interested in a particular employer or have a personal connection. Providers who encourage students to find their industry placement can refer to the self-sourcing guidance.  This approach indicates students’ commitment.  Providers should manage the relationship with employers and ensures checks are in place to make a successful match.

Where students have part-time work that is related to their occupational specialism, their part-time working hours can be counted towards their industry placement hours.

Matching students to placements – checklist and template

A checklist covering key aspects of matching students to placements can be used to:

  1. help students apply for suitable placements
  2. give providers and employers ideas about what to look for when matching students to placements.

Checklist: matching student to placement 

Matching student to placement
The placement
  • How many different placements are on offer?
  • Which roles are they in?
  • Which departments are they in?
  • Which skills will the student develop?
  • What specific requirements does each role require?
  • What attributes do students need for each role?
  • Is there a job specification for each role?
  • How relevant is it to the student’s interests and aspirations?
  • How much will the role enable the student to develop the knowledge and skills at route level?
  • How closely does the role match the occupational specialism?
The student
  • Which aspects of working in science are the student interested in?
  • Does the student already have a career in mind or are they open to different possibilities?
  • Have they tailored their CV to reflect their science-related skills, interests, and experience?
  • How well-prepared is the student with:
    • presentation skills
    • communication skills
    • interview skills
    • confidence?
The provider must consider how these skills will be measured and developed with opportunities given for students to practice these skills prior to placement.
  • What information does the student have about the placements on offer?
  • What research have they carried out themselves?
  • Would the student be better off as part of a team going to placements together or as an individual?
  • Does the student have other commitments outside of college, for example, a part-time job?
The process
  • How is the information about placements presented to students?
  • How are employers involved in the selection process?
  • What opportunities do students get to meet employers informally?
  • How much choice do students have in seeking placements?
  • How competitive is the process?
  • How are expectations managed on both sides (student and employer)?
  • What happens if students are not selected for their preferred placements?
  • Is there the option to place students in a small group as well as singly?
  • Are students encouraged to find their own placements?
The timing
  • Is the student ready to enter a work environment?
  • Has the placement timing been flexed at the employer’s request?
  • Has the student gained enough technical skills and knowledge to start the placement?
  • If the placement takes place outside normal hours, have parents or carers been consulted? 
The location
  • Is the student able to travel reasonably by public transport without excessive expense?

Template: matching student to placement

Downloadable resources

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