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Scoping Work Experience Placements

This part of the module invites you to think about your role in supporting employers who are offering work experiences and provides guidelines on the specifying the role available and recruiting a learner. It includes guidance on compiling job descriptions and person specifications as well as advertising vacancies. This might seem most applicable to paid opportunities. However, it is also a useful approach for unpaid work experience as it helps to manage expectations.

Approximate time needed: 10 hours

Materials needed:

Brown, J.N. (2011) The complete guide to recruitment : a step-by-step approach to selecting, assessing and hiring the right people. London: Kogan Page

NASES (2006) 'Chapter 2: The Recruitment Process' in 'The Guide for Student Employment.' Liverpool: NASES (in your reading pack)

Cushway, B. (2012) 'Chapter 1: Recruiting Staff' in 'The employer's handbook 2012-13 [electronic resource] : an essential guide to employment law, personnel policies and procedures. London: Kogan Page

Simon, R.I., Dippo, D., and Schenke, A. (1991) Learning work: a critical pedagogy of work education, New York, NY: Bergin and Garvey. (A link here makes this scanned chapter vailable via the Libary Course Extracts Service)

Stredwick, J. (2005) ‘Chapter 4: Recruitment' in 'An Introduction to Human Resource Management.’ Burlington, MA ; Oxford : Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005. 2nd ed.

The Brown, Cushway and Stredwick volumes are available via the University Library as electronic resources. They are linked here to the records in the University library catalogue.


Your role in helping employers

You, in collaboration with your institution, will need to consider the extent to which you support employers with the process of recruitment. For example, will you assist employers with writing advertisements or selecting suitable candidates to match their job descriptions? Or will yours be a more advisory role?

Whatever you decide on you need to know that you have the support of your institution and access to relevant and updated information.

At the very least, you should be able to advise employers on:

  • the range of methods they can use to advertise opportunities to your students
  • best practice in advertising vacancies
  • basic recruitment law to ensure that none of your vacancies contravene current equality of opportunity legislation
  • other legislative requirements


The rest of this module will prepare you to support employers with their recruitment processes.


The overall process of recruitment

We are going to begin this section of the module by looking at the overall process of recruitment before taking each step of that process in some detail in later sections of this module.

Before we go any further, perhaps it would be worth defining what we mean by recruitment. Wood and Payne provide the following helpful summary:

'Selection and Recruitment are used interchangeably, but we like to draw a distinction between the two. In our view, recruitment is a broad term used to communicate the notion of getting someone into the organization. As such, it covers everything from advertising to induction. Thus we talk about recruitment drives. But we would not talk about selection drives. Selection, for us, is focused at the point where a decision is made about who to recruit.' (Wood and Payne, 2006, page 2)

Like Wood and Payne, we will be looking at recruitment in its broadest sense. Recruitment always applies. Selection might be involved if a role is popular.

Activity - Case Study

Imagine a small employer called 'Brite Lites' have e-mailed you as follows

Hi - my name is Andy James and I run a small local advertising agency called Brite Lites. There are currently five people in my team, but we are planning to grow.

I would like to build better links with you, as your service was so supportive of me during my studies. I finished studying in 2005. I was thinking of offering some sort of work experience within my company for the 'right' person. I also have some basic administrative tasks that I need help with such as computer inputting and filing - I could pay a basic salary for these.

I know from experience how hard it is to get into advertising and how important it is for young people to have work experience.

Can you tell me how your service could help me? I also need advice on the type of vacancy I should advertise and my next steps in advertising the job.

How would you respond to Andy? What type of vacancy(ies) could Andy advertise through your service and what preparation would Andy need to take before advertising his opportunities? Please write a response which could be e-mailed to Andy.

Please email your response to Gill for some formative feedback.

Now read chapter two from the NASES Guide for Student Employment.

This section of the chapter gives a detailed outline of the recruitment process which employers should be encouraged to follow. Having read the pages is there any further advice which you would like to add to your e-mail to Andy?

Writing Job Descriptions and Person specifications

As we saw in the last section before a vacancy can be advertised, employers should be encouraged to engage in a process which enables them to decide

  • whether a post is needed and if so in what form
  • the main duties and responsibilities of a post
  • what sort of person can do the job successfully
  • the reward package for the job (this is conventionally seen as payment, but can in work experience contexts can also be learning or other benefits)

It might be tempting for employers advertising short term and part-time positions to skip some of these stages, the following reading will illustrate why its important for all employers to produce job descriptions.

We will now look at writing job descriptions and job specifications in more detail. Begin by reading the relevant chapter in the Employers Handbook by Barrie Cushway. This e-resource can be accessed using this link.

There is further information on writing job dsecriptions in Brown, 2011 and on this website (click to open).

Cushway provides a practical guide to the production of job descriptions. He describes the need for such descriptions (eg legal, training, recruitment etc) and the content of such descriptions (eg job identification, accountabilities and main purpose etc).


Start by finding a job description - the one for your current role might be interesting. Take some time to answer the following questions:

Does the structure and content of the job description follow the advice given by Cushway?

How could you improve upon the job description?

If you are reviewing your own role, to what extent does the job description fit with your daily activities?

What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of job descriptions in general?

To explore this further, read the relevant chapter of Stredwick's Introduction to Human Resource Management available here

Role descriptions for learning from work experience

As you can see, the content of job descriptions and person specifications have value beyond recruitment and also support performance management and learning and development. For this reason, the process of job design has value for unpaid work experience opportunities also. It helps to articulate what the participant can learn from the work experience, and also helps ensure, where applicable, that National Minimum Wage legislation is not being breached.



Andy James from Brite Lites is back.

Hi there

I'd be happy to have a student who is interested in advertising come into the office and help out for a couple of weeks in June. Would you be able to send me someone?


In their book designed to support school teachers in designing work education programmes, Simon et al include a chapter on designing placements to ensure learning. It is included in your reading pack. Once you have read it, write down your thoughts on how you could help Andy to define the work experience role in more detail.


You have now finished this section of the module.


Wood, R and Payne, T. 1998. Competency Based Recruitment and Selection. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd