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Student placements hit by economic downturn


Placement Managers at Robert Gordon University's Faculty of Design and Technology are reaching out to companies to host students undertaking undergraduate programmes in the fields of Built Environment (Construction Design and Management; Surveying; Architectural Technology) and Computer Network Management and Design.

This follows from the dropping levels of paid industrial placement opportunities for students currently affecting higher education programmes throughout the UK.  The recent economic crisis has been highlighted as the main contributor to this situation, namely recruitment freezes that have been enforced within organisations across these sectors. 

The number of paid placement opportunities that have been secured thus far for students show a marked decline compared to previous years where the majority of students have been placed with a host organisation.    

The Faculty of Design and Technology, and indeed the University on a whole, consider industrial placements to be of equal benefit to students and organisations.  As such, many degree programmes have this element woven into their curriculums.  A taught route is available to students instead of the placement option, however most prefer to take the opportunity to gain valuable work experience before leaving higher education.

For those studying Built Environment, the placement takes the form of a six to eight month tenure spent within an organisation that begins in February and runs through the summer.  In previous years, students have been placed within companies such as Pihl, Raeburn Drilling and Wright Associates. 

Computing Network Management and Design students have the opportunity to work within organisations for a full year, also starting in February.  Last year, students were placed in Aberdeenshire Council, CNR International and Schlumberger Information Solutions, among others. 

"Many previous host organisations are disappointed to find they are unable to take on students this year", comments Placement Manager, Valerie Cheetham.  "What is clear is the value that placement students bring to the organisations themselves.  Not only do many companies gain a skilled and knowledgeable member of staff, but they are able to use the placement as a reliable recruitment channel.  If this trend is to continue, these sectors may be facing a tangible skills shortage in years to come."  

Ron Phillips, Property Manager at Moray Council's Department of Economic Development & Planning, has hosted a Quantity Surveying student throughout 2009.

"We have found that a placement student enhances the dynamics of the team and brings about a fresh perspective and sharing of knowledge", comments Ron.

"Our Quantity Surveying student placement for 2009 proved to be very productive after initial training.  He was able to handle reasonably sized projects by the end of his placement, with minimum supervision."

Companies interested in hosting a paid placement within the fields of Construction Design and Management, Surveying, Architectural Technology, or Computer Network Management and Design should contact our Placement Office on 01224 262335.