I recently linked up on social media with someone who works through the British Council for an organisation called IAESTE. The acronym meant nothing to me but I was intrigued when I read a couple of posts about student work experience and, wondering if there was any link up potential for our sector, I looked into it further. I was blown away by this fabulous opportunity so much that I’ve felt compelled to assist in either helping UK students to fulfil their potential, or in helping UK companies benefit from work experience of foreign students coming here for the Summer.
Basically the scheme works like this:
UK businesses wishing to take part will provide work for a student from abroad for between 6 and 52 weeks – but normally a Summer job of around 8 weeks I would assume. They’ll pay the student a small wage to cover their food and lodgings and a bit of pocket money and in return they get the services of a student employee gaining invaluable work experience in a subject related industry.
On the other hand, UK students can also apply to take part in the scheme and find themselves benefitting from real hands on subject related work experiences in other countries for the Summer – an experience that any student, present or former, will tell you is priceless in terms of personal and social development while at the same time gaining an insight into the subtle differences between how we normally work here in the UK compared to our European neighbours.
If there’s anything I’ve learnt from my time representing UK contractors at the European trade association AREA it’s that our sector is generally all working in the same way but that there are some differences between every country – some subtle, some less so. There are different customs and rules of thumb that may be applied elsewhere that wouldn’t be applicable here, for example, and this kind of experience could prove extremely valuable to the student post graduation when they’re looking to enter the jobs market. As our industry becomes increasingly globalised – as I wrote about back in January when I addresed the first global symposium for the RACHP supply chain in New York – this sort of exchange of talented young engineers between nations can only be a positive thing in my opinion. I truly hope that as an industry we can embrace this scheme and help UK businesses benefit from the short term employment of the cream of foreign trainees, and simultaneously help the cream of the UK’s young talent realise their potential by experiencing an unforgettable Summer work placement.
So, to all the companies out there considering a student placement this Summer, why not consider the benefits to your business of importing someone with a fresh viewpoint?
And to any students out there reading this blog, what have you got to lose? But you’ve got an awful lot to gain from this experience. This Summer you could be earning a wage while living somewhere warm and sunny – learning new skills as you go.
If we can generate some interest in this scheme, as I’m sure we will, then I’m hoping the IoR will take up the mantle and actively encourage and endorse it – possibly through the IIR as well to ensure our sector abroad also gets involved with their national IAESTE partners.
For further information please contact me through the magazine and Lynn will pass on any messages in the first instance to me.