ESFA today (13 Nov) updated their guidance for post-16 institutions for work placement capacity and delivery funding (CDF) in 2018 to 2019:

Two thirds of employers rate work experience as being of significant or critical value for young entrants to the labour market and half of employers believe a top priority for schools and colleges should be developing awareness of working life with support from businesses. That is why the Department for Education (DfE) is investing in building the capacity of post 16 institutions and training providers for full time 16 to 18 year olds, (this funding is not available for students aged 19+) to complete a substantive work placement for vocational and technical study programmes. ESFA are expecting providers and employers to start developing the capacity and capability to deliver work placements now in advance of the introduction of T levels from 2020. To this end DfE has introduced the Work Placement Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF).

On 6 July Education Secretary Justine Greening confirmed a £50 million investment from April 2018 to fund high quality substantive work placements, to help prepare young people for skilled work. This followed the commitment made last summer through the Post-16 skills plan that all 16 to 19 students following a new technical education route will be entitled to a quality work placement to arm them with the technical skills they need to give them the best possible chance for entering skilled employment.

Further Education needs to prepare young people better to start work and the Government agrees with the recommendation of the independent panel on technical education that substantive work placements are a key way to achieve this. Therefore, DfE is introducing a requirement for all full time 16 to 18 year olds to undertake a substantive work placement as part of new T levels, which will be rolled out from 2020. However, we are asking providers and employers to start delivering substantive work placements now so that they are fully prepared for when this does become a mandatory requirement under T levels. DfE has introduced the CDF to support post 16 institutions and training providers to deliver this.

DfE has contracted with “The Challenge” to pilot the delivery of substantive work placements in this academic year. However, we recognise the scale of the challenge of moving from what is typically a 10-day general placement to a 45 to 60 day occupational placement. Hence, the importance of starting to build capacity now.

High quality, structured and outcome-focused work placements will be an integral part of the new T level package – a student will not be able to complete their T level unless they have undertaken a work placement. However, work placements will be important in their own right to help young people gain the skills needed to move into employment. DfE expect institutions to use the investment available through the Work Placement Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF) from April 2018, to effectively build capacity and establish links with employers and to drive forward work placement delivery, in readiness for T level roll out from 2020, with an expectation of full coverage by 2023.

Purpose

The CDF will be available from April 2018 to facilitate the build-up of capacity and capability to deliver substantive work placements and deliver placements in the 2018 to 2019 academic year. The placements are for students on vocational and technical study programmes at level 2 and level 3. It is recognised that the delivery of significant work placements as part of T levels will be a significant step change for the sector. This is why this funding is being provided now to help build capacity ahead of the roll out of T levels, from 2020, which work placements will be an essential part of.

The CDF funding is additional to the mainstream allocation, which is based on planned hours for qualifications and employability, enrichment and pastoral (EEP) hours. The work placement must be delivered on top of the usual planned hours, which must be recorded in the usual way.

This note sets out the principles we expect institutions to use when developing their plans for implementing a high quality work placement offer. It also provides good practice that institutions may want to adopt to establish or enhance their work placement provision. The department is keen that this funding makes an impact as early as possible and to ensure that students undertaking work placements in Academic Year 2018 to 2019 are offered a high quality experience that maximises their chances of stepping into skilled employment following their education.

DfE expect all institutions to follow the principles set out in this note when completing their implementation plans, especially with reference to implementing high quality work placements. This note should be read alongside the funding conditions online guidance and the guidance for completing the implementation plans.

Work placement principles

This note builds on the high level principles being tested in the Work Placement Pilot that launched in September 2017 with The Challenge. The 8 principles outlined below have been developed in consultation with over 150 employers and providers as part of the pilot design. These are ‘emerging’ principles that will continue to be refined through consulting more widely with the sector and employers, and therefore it is possible that these will change before T levels are rolled out. However, for 2018 to 2019 CDF, these principles provide the minimum requirements for work placement delivery and we expect institutions to adopt them.

Timing and duration

1) DfE's expectation is that work placements are on average 50 working days in length within an acceptable range of 45 to 60 days covering a minimum of 315 hours. (The normal full time working pattern of the employer, which would typically consist of 7 to 7.5 hours a day). This applies to 2018 to 2019 delivery only after which it will be reviewed. It is important to note that the minimum length of 45 days is non-negotiable. The exact duration for the T level work placement from 2020 is to be determined and this hourly total is subject to change.

2) The work placement should be within the academic timetable as far as possible but we recognise that in some occupations, peak times will either be seasonal or fall outside the institutions’ normal working hours, such as catering, hospitality or events management.

3) Providers must ensure that student GCSE Maths/English exam preparation (where this applies) is not compromised.

Occupation specific

4) The work placement must be occupationally specific and focussed on developing the practical and technical skills required for the profession or trade that the student is studying for.

5) It will be expected that students will already have a number of occupationally relevant skills to apply and practice in the workplace. The provider must agree a structured work plan with the employer for the duration of the placement and meet with the student and employer formally at least twice (mid-point and end-point) to review student progress and to meet the student fortnightly on an informal basis.

Student readiness

6) The student must be considered work-ready (have an appropriate work ethic and etiquette) to undertake a work placement, to manage both student and employer expectations of the appropriate behaviours in the workplace.

Externality

7) The work placement must take place with an external employer (such as, it is on a site external to the student’s learning environment and not on another site operated by the provider). It is critical that the student experiences a real life job role and work life pressures (including travel to work, independence from their peers, working with new people and dealing with the public). This requirement applies even where the institution has extensive facilities mirroring the workplace.

Special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) provision

8) Students with SEND must be able to access high quality external work placements so they can benefit from that real life experience as much as their non-SEND peers. Providers should consider what preparation and support students with SEND would need in order to access work placements, and complete them successfully. Providers should use other available funding (such as High Needs or Disadvantage Funding) and if necessary work placement capacity and delivery funding to provide additional support in the workplace and assist with reasonable workplace adjustments. This could include the services of an independent workplace mentor or, where students have more complex needs, a job coach.

Clear and pre-determined outcomes

The principles above outline the key differences between ‘work experience’ commonly offered as part of 16 to 19 study programmes and substantial ‘work placements’ that will form part of the T level programme, namely, the strong emphasis on pre-defined learning aims. The work placement should provide the real life learning environment to develop and hone the technical skills and behaviours required for the relevant industry. We have specified a longer duration to ensure that students are given sufficient time to master essential skills and develop their strengths; and the employer has the opportunity to develop the students’ technical abilities, to make a lasting impact on the business. The time in the workplace must have a clear structure and purpose to ensure students get the best from their work placement; thereby enabling them to secure skilled employment in their field as a result.

For reference please see the assessment forms that can used to complete assessments of student work readiness prior to the placement, and then subsequently their progress at mid-point and post placement, developed for pilot.

Timing and duration

DfE have provided illustrative examples of use of funds and options for collaboration developed for the pilots on planning the allocated time into the curriculum, using the day release and block placement work placement options. These examples are being tested through the pilots. It is anticipated that employers from different industries will have their own preferences as to when to host work placements during the academic year. DfE ask that institutions offer a degree of flexibility when negotiating the timing and pattern of the placement with employers.

The work placement should be within the academic timetable as far as possible and providers should ensure there are adequate flexibilities within the term time curriculum for students to undertake their placement. However, DfE recognise that in some occupations, peak times will either be seasonal or fall outside the institutions’ normal working hours, such as catering, hospitality or events management.

Building internal capacity

DfE recommend that institutions take a whole organisation approach to planning the introduction of substantial work placements and ensure that this is fully integrated into the core business. In the process of completing the implementation plan, DfE ask institutions to forward plan for the next 2 to 3 years and consider staffing and other capacity issues. By September 2018, DfE would expect by to see progress against these plans. In particular, evidence of the recruitment of dedicated staff to begin sourcing placements; re-training of existing staff; and student work preparation/employability training and time out on placements to be integrated into the curriculum for delivery from the autumn term.

Collaboration with employers

The department does not underestimate the scale of the challenge to create high quality work placement opportunities for all technical students in future, in particular, the importance of securing willing employers to host substantial work placements. When completing the implementation plans, institutions will need to set out their overarching employer engagement strategy, including the requirement to identify appropriate employers within the local area and invest time to build networks and relationships, so that institutions can successfully deliver high quality placements at scale.

Collaboration with other institutions

DfE recognise institutions’ experience of work placement delivery varies considerably. Smaller and/or less experienced providers may encounter various challenges when building their work placement offer from scratch. We would expect that leading institutions who are actively delivering work placements will share their local knowledge and expertise (including good practice and materials/tools).

DfE also recommend that smaller institutions collaborate with other neighbouring or similar institutions for economies of scale, by being open to pooling resources for example, hiring a cross-site work placement coordinator and/or sharing the operational responsibilities. It is important that neighbouring institutions work together and in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce and/or other local employer representatives, to develop a coordinated local employer engagement strategy.

DfE have provided illustrative examples of use of funds and options for collaboration to achieve this common goal.

DfE hope that all eligible providers take full advantage of this opportunity and use this advice to aid the delivery of high quality work placement programmes from 2018 to 2019.

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