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Can pay, should pay? Exploring paid and unpaid work opportunities from employer and student perspectives.

Caddell, Martha; McIlwhan, Rosemary; Irving, Christine; Smith, Colin F; Smith, Sally


Martha Caddell

Rosemary McIlwhan

Christine Irving

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Prof Sally Smith
Head of Graduate Apprenticeships and Skills Development and Professor


Within current university-focused discussions around how to enhance and support student employability, considerable emphasis has been placed on gaining work experience, either through volunteering or via work placements and internships. There is growing evidence that such opportunities are valuable to students in relation to their academic performance and their employability skills. Yet there is also increased concern about an apparent ‘new elitism’, where only those who can afford to work for free can gain such work experience. Efforts to boost employability skills need to benefit ‘the many’ not just those who can afford to work for free. This paper explores the motivations, drivers and experience of students and employers engaged in placement activity, both paid and unpaid, to highlight the critical questions and practical challenges raised by the diversity of practice. It draws on insights from a range of placement and internship programmes currently operating in the Scottish HE sector to explore the relative benefits, and practical challenges, of promoting paid work placements as part of student employability interventions.

Conference Name QAA Enhancement Themes
Start Date Jun 11, 2013
End Date Jun 13, 2013
Publication Date 2013
Deposit Date Jan 30, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Student employability; internships; work placement; work experience; volunteering; employability skills;
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