TMI encourages and values the opportunity for students to experience working in the sector as part of their overall studies, either as a series of short placements or one longer internship. To help students, host employers and HE institutions get the most benefit from placements, we have developed a code of conduct.
Code of Practice for Industry Placements
The purpose of this code is to establish workable guidelines for the conduct of industrial placements for students in further and higher education in organisations concerned with destination management. The guidelines have been designed to encourage and to enable both students and employers to gain worthwhile benefits from industrial placements, to the overall advantage of the industry as a whole.
Why placements are important
The tourism industry encompasses a vast range of organisations. At the same time educational and training courses vary enormously in terms of their learning objectives and content. With this in mind it is important that those involved in placements should recognise the importance of this experience and that it should be managed in ways that reflect the needs and obligations of each of the participants: the educational institutions, students and employers. This code of practice has been produced in order to provide a framework for industrial placements and guidance for each of the parties mentioned above.
The Institute acknowledges that a wide range of education institutions now provide courses which are relevant to tourism and destination management and for that reason the word "college" is used throughout the document as shorthand for whatever type of institution is involved.
TMI Support for Industry Placements
The Institute supports the idea of industrial placements because it is committed to the highest possible standards in education and training. Only by gaining direct operational experience can students gain the insights and awareness they need to gain successful entry to the industry. For this reason the Institute supports and encourages the use of good quality industrial placements, which will complement the "classroom" aspects of courses.
Placements are also good for the Industry and the Institute intends that this approach will improve the overall quality of entrants into the profession to the benefit of both employers and the industry as a whole.
The Institute would urge all employers, therefore, to provide opportunities for industrial placements and encourage colleges and students to make proper arrangements with employers to ensure that placements are effective and useful experiences for all concerned.
A draft placement contract is appended to these guidelines and those involved in arranging placements are encouraged to use this, or a version of it.
Endorsement by Visit Britain
"Industrial placements are a very important part of a student's education, adding a vital, practical dimension to the theory taught at college and university. In turn, students contribute much to an organisation, bringing with them a freshness of approach and style that any employer will value. Placements are particularly effective in the service industry where interpersonal skills are key and where technical knowledge is no substitute for experience.
The guidelines produced by the Tourism Management Institute are therefore both timely and helpful. Visit Britain welcomes this document and urges the tourism industry to adopt its recommendations when dealing with student employees"
Alan Brittten Chairman Visit Britain January 2001
The Role of the Employer
Employers can gain many benefits from placements, not least the opportunity to properly evaluate a potential recruit. It also provides an opportunity to do one-off projects that might otherwise never be achieved. Students can also add value to the business or organisation through innovation and by bringing ideas they have learned at college to the operational context.
The employer should work from the guidelines produced by the college. Reliance on the student to take responsibility for organising activities within the placement does not always lead to the best results. Personality plays its part, with the more confident able to make suggestions and impress upon their employer the purpose of the placement in their overall learning programme. The less confident may, however, allow themselves to become involved in more menial tasks, that will not produce the desired outcomes. Accordingly, the employer should make every effort to understand the educational needs of the student and the learning objectives set out in the placement contract.
The employer should interview potential students prior to selecting the most suitable for the placement. As there may well be recruitment opportunities resulting from the placement, it would be beneficial for them to take a student who shows an interest in their operation and looks as if they would become a useful member of the existing team.
The employer should complete a formal induction with the student on Day 1 of the placement. This should not only ensure proper introductions to the organisation, team membership etc., but should also include health and safety, equal opportunities and insurance. An induction checklist would help in this process. This could include:
- Welcome and introductions
- Hours of work
- Company policies, e.g. "No Smoking", dress code, sickness procedures, health and safety, use of VDUs, risk assessment, accident reporting etc
- Students' contact telephone numbers, next of kin
- A plan for each week and a list of objectives
- Dates for college visits
A member of staff should be appointed as placement supervisor or mentor for the student and be responsible for the line management of the student throughout the placement.
Regular feedback should be provided for the student during the course of the placement.
The student should be given proper exposure to the realities of organisational life, including office and other procedures.
The College should be given early notice of any problems with the placement especially where these may lead to its termination and should be informed of any protracted leave of absence caused by sickness or any other eventuality.
The student should be properly introduced to the organisation and its working arrangements and be expected to become a member of the team.
The organisation should carry employers and public liability insurance in respect of the placement student and their activities during the course of the placement.
- should be taught how to carry out his or her responsibilities safely and receive proper induction training in respect of manual handling and other health and safety procedures.
- the student should be properly trained in the use of equipment.
- students should not be expected to work more hours than is standard practice for the operation concerned unless they are involved with any special project notified previously to the college.
- every effort should be made to ensure that the student's experience will be of value to them in their future careers. It is, however, the student's responsibility to gain the maximum benefit from the placement. The College should aid this process by effectively monitoring the placement, the student's progress and the employer's satisfaction with it.
The Role of the Student
It is so difficult to gain the commitment of employers to accepting student placements, that any student fortunate enough to secure a placement should be encouraged to understand the seriousness with which they should treat this opportunity. Whilst there will be many benefits for the individual student they should also consider those who may seek similar opportunities with that employer in the future and therefore do their best to demonstrate the value of such arrangements.
With this in mind they should adopt a positive attitude to their work and their work colleagues. They are, in effect acting as ambassadors for their college and for future students seeking similar placements. They should understand the weight of that responsibility. They should also bear in mind that one unsatisfactory student will undoubtedly discourage employers from taking students in the future.
Industrial placements offer more than just a "taste" of working life; they offer real experience to complement the theoretical side of study; case study material for college-based work; a chance to apply and modify what has been learnt in college. They also create a contact from which a future employment opportunity may materialise.
To get the best from a placement students should therefore:
- decide how best the placement can add value to their education and training.
- prepare for the placement by finding out as much as possible about the operations and operational environment of the employing organisation.
- adhere to the terms set out in the placement contract (see below); respect the culture and working practices of the employer organisation.
- be proactive in learning as much as possible from the experience including making arrangements to interview key individuals even where their placement work may not bring them into contact.
- develop a good working relationship with the workplace manager or mentor.
- represent to the best of their abilities the good name and reputation of both the college and the employer organisation.
- learn as much as possible about office procedures in the employer organisation.
- respect security arrangements and confidentiality.
The Organisation of Placements
The organisation of placements is normally the responsibility of the College although it is recognised that for non-compulsory placements the student is often instrumental in this. Either way, effective industrial placements reflect well upon colleges and help in recruitment. The college itself may also learn from the placement with the student bringing back experience and knowledge that can refresh course content.
To ensure success colleges should:
- fully brief the employer on the aims and objectives of the placement, with tasks orientated around clear learning outcomes. This should be reflected within the learning contract (see below).
- provide both student and employer with the documentation necessary to establish effective working arrangements.
- prepare the student for any interview to which the employer invites them. If necessary they should be given advice on appearance and grooming, interview performance and the importance of arriving punctually.
- ensure that students recognise the importance of placements and the extra responsibilities that will be placed upon them.
- communicate effectively with the employer prior to the placement and during it to ensure that both the student and the employer are maximising their benefit from it.
- design a contract document which sets out the obligations of each party and ensure that the terms contained therein are agreed prior to the commencement of the placement.
- provide an assessed learning log where the student can record their impressions and progress during the placement.
- ensure that the placement is designed to reflect a series of structured learning objectives which are documented in the placement contract.
- meet with the employer prior to the commencement of the placement, and thereafter at a frequency appropriate to the length and location of the placement, but at least once during the placement and at the end to ensure the learning objectives have been met.
- involve the employer in the assessment process.
- appoint at least one tutor with the responsibility for managing and administering student placements and providing a point of contact for both student and employer.
- ensure adequate feedback to the employer during and after the placement.
- ensure that students are properly briefed as to the college's requirements of them during the course of their placement.
- meet with the student at least once per month during the course of the placement.
- inform the employer, in confidence, of any medical or other special needs in respect of the placement student.
Length of Placements
The Institute recognises that the length of placements will depend on the student's circumstances, college policy and perhaps most significantly the capacity of employers to respond. For this reason the Institute would recommend that placements should be of at least one month duration although it recognises that shorter periods may be beneficial if they are focused on specific learning activities or experiences.
Payment is not considered essential for placements which are located within the equivalent of one semester (ie half) of an academic year. Where a placement is effectively of one academic year's duration, however, an appropriate rate should be paid on a recognised scale within the organisation.
Placement contracts should be designed by the college to reflect the learning objectives of the placement. These should follow a standard format (see examples below) and be agreed by the student and the employer prior to the commencement of the placement.
Learning Content and Experience
The Institute will not prescribe the content of placements, as these should reflect the learning objectives of the programme or relevant module. It would expect, however, that the following issues would be included:
- Time management and meeting deadlines
- Team working
- Decision-making skills and competencies in the office environment
- Using IT
The student should be encouraged to audit their own skills at the beginning of the placement and to identify any areas for development. They should then self-appraise their development in these areas at the end of the placement, preferably in a meeting with the employer supervisor and the relevant tutor. It is important that the placement experience is cross-referenced to programme learning outcomes in order that the students can make the best of the opportunities provided.
And finally …
At the end of the placement, the student should be encouraged to request an exit interview. The student may thus gain valuable insights into personal development issues and any additional skills they might acquire.
Above all, the placement should be a valuable learning experience for the student and a useful resource for the employer. Clearly all the participants stand to gain from a well organised industrial placement. And the industry itself will benefit from raising the calibre and experience of its entrants.
The Institute wishes all participants well in their future activities in the hope that these guidelines will help to cement further the crucial bonds between education and industry that will make tourism destination management a proud profession.