The work placement can involve either work experience or work shadowing. Work experience is where the student participates in the work of the firm where he is located, doing duties as assigned by the employer. Work shadowing may be more feasible in highly skilled work environments, where the need for specialised knowledge and training precludes actual work experience. The placement is usually for two weeks in the middle of February.
Payment is not expected by the student. The placement is part of an educational programme and the learning opportunity offered by the placement is valuable in itself. However, the employer is free to decide to give a reward for the work done at his/her own discretion.
The ideal situation would be where the student has an opportunity to see a workplace or a job in which he might have an interest when he leaves school. The student is expected to follow the normal times of the work day of the workplace in which he is placed, rather than the school times.
The value of this programme may be summarised as follows:
- The learning of job-searching skills through the process of searching for and securing a placement for themselves.
- Experience of the world of work.
- The opportunity to experience at first hand a career area in which the pupil has an interest.
- The writing of a comprehensive report on the work placement.
There is a programme of preparation for the placement, involving the pupils learning some appropriate skills in job-searching and in coping with the new environment. Parents are also requested to help in the finding of suitable placements for their sons.
The student is required to observe, analyse and subsequently submit a written report on his experience of the work situation in which he participates, taking into account the following, where they are appropriate:
- Job-searching experiences
- The history and capital/organisational structure of the business
- The work or production process and the duties and responsibilities of the workers observed
- Quality assurance
- Customer/consumer base
- Differences between this workplace and school
- Any connections between the work done and school subjects
- Job opportunities in the company/organisation.
If the employer wishes, they may request the student to show them this report when it is completed. Many employers find them fascinating!
Insurance cover for this educational activity is provided by the Department of Education, through Allianz plc.
Students are responsible for organising their own transport to the workplace.
Following the placement, the employer will be asked for a brief evaluation. This consists of a short questionnaire, allowing the employer to score the student on ten items, in relation to the student’s contribution to the business. The questionnaire takes no more than a minute or two to complete but is a valuable record for the student of the employer’s assessment of their placement. It is inserted in the student’s school file for future reference.