From education to employment

From radio production to renewable energy – students support organisations and explore careers

guys in hi-vis working on manual labour

Almost 500 University of Chester students have taken on roles from radio presenting to flying police drones as they have gained invaluable work experience and supported a range of organisations. 

Work Based Learning (WBL) placements have been successfully completed by students in over 330 organisations including businesses, charities, schools and tourist attractions, across Chester, the North West, North Wales, and the wider UK.

The WBL team at the University of Chester Business School is thrilled that its placements last term were enjoyed by more than 480 students, who have gained rewarding insights into graduate careers and where their degree might take them. 

They have been welcomed by placement providers from a wide range of sectors including: Storyhouse; Merseyside Police; Chester Zoo; Waterco – a national environmental consultancy; Wind2; Calon FM; the RSPCA; Royal Liverpool Golf Club; The National Trust and Encirc. 

Roles have ranged from getting to grips with new Geographic Information System (GIS) software as part of discovering more about the renewable energy industry, to supporting with varied tasks with the police, including front desk duties and flying drones.

The flagship Enhancing Your Employability through WBL module has been running successfully in various forms for more than 25 years at the University. At its core is the five-week placement that is undertaken during the second year of undergraduate study.

Animal Behaviour and Welfare student, Chloe Pay, spent her placement at Ty Gwyn Pets in Flintshire. Her duties included helping with day-to-day tasks in the kennels and cattery including feeding, and preparing kennels and cattery units for incoming pets.

She said:

“I enjoyed my placement all round. I particularly enjoyed supervising the dogs playing on the yards, it was interesting to see all their different personalities and watch some of the more nervous dogs grow in confidence during their stay. I enjoyed my placement and found it a great opportunity to learn a variety of different skills. I was made to feel really welcome and was treated like one of the team.” 

Kirstie Simpson, Associate Professor and Dean of Chester Business School, said:

“Our thanks to the many employers who have given such career-enhancing opportunities to our students. Work Based Learning is a unique experience for students to develop their employability skills within the workplace, whilst giving employers an opportunity to influence the workforce of the future and gain help, support and input. As students build their portfolio and shape their plans, they can contribute to a specific or ongoing project, share their subject knowledge, offer fresh ideas and bring a new perspective.”

For Josh Sellings, who is studying for a degree in Business Management, his placement at Spice Kitchen has enabled him to plan for his future career. His role involved a wide range of tasks including looking at e-commerce orders, market research on products, implementing inventory management software and shop floor mapping. 

He said:

“I have developed my Excel and IT skills, my communication skills, my customer service skills and developed my business knowledge. This placement has prepared me for my future career by showing me the office-based job role and this is something I have enjoyed, and I would pursue a job in this setting after university.” 

Nick Grossi’s aspirations for a future in finance have been cemented after a successful time with Atkinson Accounts, supporting his Accounting and Finance degree: “WBL was a very fun experience where I got to meet new people who helped me develop amazingskills that will benefit me in my career long-term. WBL has given me the opportunity to work in the field I am studying, to see if it is what I actually want to do, and has given me the chance to truly fall in love with my degree.” 

Music Journalism student, Corin Doolan made the most of a dream placement with Calon FM and she encourages other students to aim high when they apply for their placements: “Reach for the stars. Even if you think an organisation or industry you would love to work in is out of reach, send that email, or reach out to them to ask – you will have a much better experience if you do something you are interested in and passionate about.”  

She added:

“Being able to produce and talk live on air has been an amazing experience and really helped me refine my skills in adaptability and working wellunder pressure. This placement has given me such a valuable insight and helped me realise that there are a wide range of jobs in radio that I would be highly interested in pursuing after my degree.”

Employers have welcomed the fresh ideas that students on placement can bring.

Dave Robbins, Enquiry Officer, from Merseyside Police, supported two students on their placements. He said:

“We always encourage young people to get involved with the Merseyside Police either as a volunteer or as a placement/work experience and I’m hoping that their experiences will cascade to other friends and students who will consider a role with our organisation. 

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the placements. Be prepared to put effort into the planning and to enjoy the time with the student.” 

Chester Race Company managers were delighted with student Mark Stafford who was a key part of different teams in the lead up to their opening May Festival.   
Placement provider Matthew Jones explained:

“Mark was able to quickly acclimatise to our organisation and was a huge support, especially to our Health and Safety Department, but also supported our Security and Marketing Departments.” 

He also recommended planning for employers to get the most out of the student placement:

“Plan their time, make sure they get a good mix of tasks, support them, and the rewards will be endless to you.” 

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