Employer's guide to working with USW students

A work placement is a period of temporary work, where students have the opportunity to gain experience working within a company.  The aim of a placement is to bridge the gap between academic study and vocational graduate experience.  Giving students the opportunity to apply the theory and skills gained during their degree to a period of practical and professional work.  There is a variety of types of placement.  These include:

Type of work experience

  • 30hr – 70hr placement - integrated placements, typically offered as part of a work placement module. 
  • 10 week internship - short term work placement exclusively offered within courses such as Business and Management, Event Management, Human Resources Management, Marketing Management, Public Services. 
  • Summer placement - up to 3 months duration, that can be offered on a flexible basis.
  • Sandwich placement - up to 12 months duration, typically taken as the penultimate year of study.
  • Live brief - negotiated pieces of work, either undertaken on an individual or group basis.
  • Work shadowing - observational activity allowing a student the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a specific role.
  • Company visits and insight days - invite students to visit your premises and showcase the variety of roles you offer.
  • Volunteering - unpaid period of work in the third sector.

  • With a diverse community of students based on campuses located across South Wales, the University of South Wales is a hub of skills, knowledge and experience that can add value to your business.
  • Our students are studying courses rooted in the real world.  They can make a valuable contribution to your organisation from day one – whether you’re in the private, public or third sector.
  • The University’s Careers and Employability Service has a dedicated team of professionals and offers a range of services to support your organisation’s recruitment campaigns and plans for the future.

  • Improves future job prospects – students are able to build their CVs. 
  • Use and develop skills valued by employers – students will have the opportunity to build on existing skills and learn new skills. 
  • Develop your professional network – students can develop their LinkedIn network which can be beneficial in finding out about future opportunities.
  • An opportunity to try out a specific area of work or career idea.  
  • The potential for students to earn. 

  • Aim of the placement – what will the role be and how will the work placement student contribute to the company’s goals?  Is your company looking to fill a need on a specific project?
  • What would you expect the student to have achieved on completion?
  • Who will be responsible for mentoring/supervising the student?

Under health and safety law, work placement students are your employees.  They should be treated no differently to regular employees.  Appropriate employers’ liability and public liability insurance should be in place and comply with the UK health and safety legislation. 

What you need to do:

  • If you have fewer than five employees you are not required to have a written risk assessment.
  • If you are taking on a work placement student for the first time, or one with particular needs, review your risk assessment before they start.
  • For placements in low-risk environments, such as offices or shops, with everyday risks that will mostly be familiar to the student, your existing arrangements for your regular employees should suffice.
  • For environments with risks less familiar to the student, you will need to make arrangements to manage the risks.  This will need to include induction, supervision, site familiarisation, and any protective equipment needed.
  • For a placement in a higher-risk environment such as construction, engineering and manufacturing you will need to consider what work the student will be doing or observing, the risks involved and how these are managed.
  • When you induct students, explain the risks and how they are controlled, checking that they understand what they have been told.
  • Check that students know how to raise health and safety concerns. 

A positive and successful work placement should:

  • Offer challenging projects and tasks. 
  • Give them a broad exposure to the organisation. 
  • Provide supervision and mentoring. 
  • Set clear goals and objectives for the student to achieve. 

While it is not a legal requirement, remuneration is highly recommended for placements that last longer than two weeks (70hrs) and is increasingly seen as best practice.  An industry appropriate paid work placement is more likely to ensure that you are able to attract more students to your opportunities.  It will also ensure that your programme is inclusive by removing financial barriers for those who are less able to cover costs associated with working, such as travel, food and suitable clothing. 

Other forms of benefits that can attract a student may include: 

  • Paid accommodation 
  • Free/discounted food
  • Training
  • Contributions towards study costs

It is vital that the work placement student is inducted in to your organisation the same way as a regular employee.  To get the maximum benefit form the placement it is crucial that you explain the way the business operates in order for the student to contribute form the beginning.  The following kinds of information can be provided within the first few days: 

  • What is the history of your organisation?
  • Who are your customers/stakeholders?
  • What are the organisation’s current objectives?
  • How may the student contribute to those objectives?
  • How should they process requests?
  • How do the email and telephone systems work?
  • What health and safety process do they need to know about?
  • Are there security or confidentiality issues of which the student should be aware?

Role description

  • Offer a clear description of the tasks the student will be expected to perform. 
Content and Development 

  • Ensure that the student is fully inducted and receives appropriate support and training in order for them to complete their assigned tasks.  
  • Utilise the student’s skills by assigning suitably challenging tasks, but also limit the assignment of excessive unskilled tasks. 


  • Assign a supervisor to mentor and support the student.
  • The supervisor should organise regular sessions to check progress and offer guidance where applicable.
  • An induction programme should be organised by the assigned supervisor and a discussion of mutual expectations should take place during this period. 
Working environment and Company culture
  • Welcome the student and make them feel part of the team.
  • Celebrate the student’s contributions and achievements in order to boost their confidence. 
  • An appropriate work station needs to be provided to the student so that they are able to access all the resources they need to complete their assigned tasks.