Launched in 2018 with investment from Jisc, the Placer app does just that - and it’s been nominated for the UK Top 100 Social Entrepreneur Index.

How many graduates does it take to change a lightbulb? Four.

  1. One to design a nuclear-powered bulb that never needs changing,
  2. One to write an essay on the significance of lightbulbs in the 20th century,
  3. One to choreograph an interpretive dance on the theme of darkness, and
  4. One to call an electrician.

It’s a bad joke but it illustrates a point: graduate recruiters often highlight the void between skills and experience.

While most students emerge from higher education (HE) with a solid academic grasp of their discipline, all too often they are not deemed ‘work-ready’ by prospective employers.

The value of work experience

Great effort has gone into addressing this problem in recent years. Within universities, strengthening links with industry has made undergraduate study more relevant and meaningful while also helping young people develop contacts in their chosen sector.

Students find that work experience placements are increasingly important too, giving them the chance to explore careers that may suit them, to learn how to take the initiative and collaborate in the workplace, and to build a CV that stands out from the crowd.

Creating opportunities

Placer can help. Matching students with work experience opportunities, the app began with a real problem and some solid research.

Four years ago, the social entrepreneur David Barker was working with the National Centre for Universities and Business to explore how tech might help address problems in graduate employment.

He picked up on the 2013 government FutureTrack research, which found that students who gain work experience during their time at university are both more likely to get a better degree result and less likely to be unemployed or underemployed. David says,

“The problem was, there weren’t enough placement opportunities for young people. We needed to innovate a new model.”

Making a positive impact

What emerged is an app and platform that partners with universities and engages employers of all sizes, locally and nationally, to publish opportunities for work experience. These range from insight days to summer internships and full years in industry.

David comments,

“We aim to give all students in HE access to meaningful work experience to increase their employability and business network."

Initially funded by the Cisco Foundation, Placer won further investment from Jisc and Unite Students in 2017. The app went live with six universities in October 2018, featuring employers including the BBC, Unilever, Sage, and HSBC.

Placer now has plans for expansion, looking to bring in more universities and work with a greater number of SMEs. It’s going from strength to strength.

As well as attracting support from ambassadors Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of the City of London, and membership bodies the Institute for Engineering and Technology and the Creative Industries Federation, Placer Ltd has just been nominated for the UK Top 100 Social Entrepreneur Index.

“We’re delighted to see Placer gaining recognition for making a positive impact on students’ lives and graduates’ employability,”

says Sue Attewell, Jisc’s head of change.

Shining a light on societal problems as well as practical ones, David describes the company’s ‘triple-bottom-line’, of growth, profit, and doing good.

We want to prove to employers the value UK graduates can bring to their business, and help students of all backgrounds find meaningful work.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 39 minutes ago

RT @KateMoloughney: Great to read @DeeAylettSmith in @FENews discussing how @worldskillsuk is continuing to support young people during the…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page