Exploring the impact of an industrial placement year on students' competency development: a three-cohort, longitudinal study

Hughes, Helen Philippa Narelle ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8454-8206 , Mouratidou, Maria ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8144-3537 and Donald, William E. ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3670-5374 (2023) Exploring the impact of an industrial placement year on students' competency development: a three-cohort, longitudinal study. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 13 (6). pp. 1218-1233.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-02-2023-0044


Purpose: Drawing on human capital theory and sustainable career theory, this paper aims to explore the impact of undertaking an industrial placement on the “Great Eight” competencies as perceived by university students and line managers.

Design/methodology/approach: 618 students and their line managers across three cohorts (pre-COVID-19) took part in a longitudinal quantitative study. Students completed a three-wave questionnaire at the placement's start, middle, and end. Line managers completed the questionnaire during waves two and three to offer 360-degree feedback. Descriptive statistics and repeated measures ANOVA were applied to the dataset.

Findings: The impacts of undertaking a placement were highly variable for different competencies at the sub-scale level, although at the eight-scale level, the nuance was less pronounced. However, students self-perceived that all eight competencies increased between the start and end of the placement. Surprisingly, line managers perceived students' competencies to be higher than perceived by the students.

Originality/value: The value of undertaking a placement is often poorly measured (e.g. satisfaction) rather than competency-based outcomes, which can lead to conclusions that are overly simplistic and difficult to use in practice. Theoretically, this study advances understanding of human capital theory and sustainable career theory by understanding the role placements can play in developing human capital and preparing university students for sustainable careers. Practically, the findings of this study can help to close the university–industry skills gap by informing curriculum and placement scheme design and supporting students to acquire personal resources and signal these to prospective employers as an antecedent to career sustainability.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 2042-3896
Departments: Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership > Business
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2023 10:50
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2024 17:00
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/7181


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