Setting students up for world of work

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A Leeds university is making sure students are prepared for the world of work in a collaboration which lets businesses shape the courses and curriculum it delivers.

Leeds Trinity University is working with a number of businesses, both from the city and countrywide, to give students valuable experience and skills needed to put them ahead of the thousands of graduates seeking post university employment each year.

Later this month employers will meet undergraduates at an Employer’s Forum to learn more about what they both require outside the classroom.

Firms lined up to take part include Johnston Press, which owns the Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post titles, Arcadia and Jet2.

Jess Sewter, Head of Partnerships, Placements & Employment at the university told City Buzz: “Businesses talk to academics about what they need and are looking for, what has changed in their industries, what new skills are needed and the academics talk about their courses.

“Employers give feedback and for one course we might get 300 pieces of useful information about a sector.

“We feed that back into our courses and as we are a relatively small university we can do that in a controlled way.”

The university, now has around 4000 students ,and when it was established as a teacher training college in 1966 even back then students were sent out on placements.

That pattern has continued as the university matches students to the businesses it has on its database.

Ms Sewter added: “Every degree has placements and we are the only university where they are mandatory - even for history and courses you wouldn’t expect.”

Daniel Magrath a final year history student went to Onstate - a Leeds based internet marketing company.

He added: “My expectations were only to gain a slight insight into one possible area of interest but in turn I have found a career path.

“Like most I initially had reservations about going on placement with the fear of spending six weeks being unchallenged and used as an office barista.

“Fortunately this was not the case, I have spent my placement being challenged with tasks for many elements of e commerce. Some I have enjoyed, some I haven’t but all have been useful.

“The chance to work with professionals enables you to not only get an insight into your chosen field but observe the skills required to succeed.

“I and many of my contemporaries have a tendency to fixate on criteria which may not be as important as we think, such as money or status.”

Statistics revealed by the university seem to support the scheme’s success with 95 per cent of graduates in work or further study - but there is always more work to be done.

Ms Sewter added: “Sectors change all the time. There is a technology revolution in Leeds and a massive influx of businesses to come and more work to be done to find out what they want.

“You have got to think about what the sector needs and what students want to make it attractive to them.

“A degree does not define you anymore, the big thing for us is to get students to have experiences and identify what their strengths are.”