Recently the School of Construction Management and Engineering (SCME) held a half-day workshop on ‘Industrial Partnership Companies and SCME’ to showcase their placement students. The workshop included presentations from four Part 3 students that had been on placement over the summer as part of the School’s Career Development module. Every student created a poster that explained their role on placement and how it fitted into the company’s wider aims. The event was the first of its kind within the University.
Over twenty employers from the construction industry attended the event. Stephen Brown from Brookfield Multiplex, the company who are developing the University’s Bridges Hall site, told me that they have had a graduate development programme in place for a number of years, but it is only recently they have been thinking more about placements. ‘Getting students working in the industry before they start their third year is the best way to recruit the brightest graduates. I most value the enthusiasm that students bring to the workplace.’
I spoke to Emmanuel Essah who originally set up the module, and Tim Lees, who has recently taken over from Emmanuel as placement tutor. Given the nature of the construction industry, the School already has close links with the industry. Employability is a major factor for prospective students when they come to choosing where they want to study. Emmanuel explained:
‘We will be able to talk to parents at Open Days and demonstrate the fact that there’s a 50% chance that your child will be placed and out of that 50, there’s another 50% chance that your child will get a job, that’s very encouraging. We can demonstrate that out of the 23 we placed at least 4 have a job even before they complete their studies. It increases the prospects of people coming into the School, and the University as a whole.’
Placements have other benefits for the School: ‘I got to know so many companies. Because we are working with these companies, we have the potential to do research with these companies, and that’s what I’m now benefitting from.’