Industry Placement Capacity and Delivery Fund: principles for high quality industry placements

Delivery of substantial industry placements in return for industry placement capacity and delivery fund (CDF) in 2018 to 2019


High quality, structured and outcome-focused industry placements will be an integral part of the new T Level package. A student will not be able to complete their T Level unless they have undertaken an industry placement. However, industry placements will be important in their own right to help young people gain the skills needed to move into employment. That is why we are making funding available now to ensure high quality industry placements can be delivered before T Levels are introduced. We expect providers to use the investment available through the Industry Placement Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF) from April 2018, to effectively build capacity and establish links with employers. This funding has been provided to drive forward industry placement delivery, in readiness for T Level roll out from 2020. Allocation of these funds is not determinative of which providers will deliver T levels or which of the current qualifications being delivered are likely to be defunded.


This note sets out the principles we expect providers to use when developing their plans for implementing a high quality industry placement offer. It also provides good practice that providers may want to adopt to establish or enhance their industry placement provision. The department is keen that this funding makes an impact as early as possible and to ensure that students undertaking industry placements in academic year 2018 to 2019 are offered a high quality experience that maximises their chances of stepping into skilled employment following their education.

Industry placement principles

This note builds on the high level principles being tested in the Industry Placement Pilot that ran throughout academic year 2017 to 2018 with The Challenge. The 8 principles outlined below were developed in consultation with over 150 employers and providers as part of the pilot design. These are ‘emerging’ principles that will continue to be refined through consulting more widely with the sector and employers, and therefore it is possible that these will change before T Levels are rolled out. However, for 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 CDF, these principles provide the minimum requirements for industry placement delivery and we expect providers to adopt them.

Timing and duration

1) Our expectation is that industry placements are on average 50 working days in length within an acceptable range of 45 to 60 days (plus) covering a minimum of 315 hours. (The normal full time working pattern of the employer, which would typically consist of 7 to 7.5 hours a day). This applies to 2018 to 2019 delivery only after which it will be reviewed. It is important to note that the minimum length of 45 days is non-negotiable. The exact duration for the T Level industry placement from 2020 is to be determined and this hourly total is subject to change.

2) The industry placement should be within the academic timetable as far as possible but we recognise that in some occupations, peak times will either be seasonal or fall outside the providers’ normal working hours, such as catering, hospitality or events management.

3) Providers must ensure that student GCSE Maths/English exam preparation (where this applies) is not compromised.

Occupation specific

4) The industry placement must be occupationally specific and focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for the profession or trade that the student is studying for.

5) It will be expected that students will already have a number of occupationally relevant skills to apply and practice in the workplace. The provider must agree a structured work plan with the employer for the duration of the placement and meet with the student and employer at regular intervals.

Student readiness

6) The student must be considered work-ready (have an appropriate work ethic and etiquette) to undertake an industry placement, to manage both student and employer expectations of the appropriate behaviours in the workplace.


7) The industry placement must take place with an external employer (such as, it is on a site external to the student’s learning environment and not on another site operated by the provider). It is critical that the student experiences a real life job role and work life pressures (including travel to work, independence from their peers, working with new people and dealing with the public). This requirement applies even where the institution has extensive facilities mirroring the workplace.

Special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) provision

8) Students with SEND must be able to access high quality external industry placements so they can benefit from that real life experience as much as their non-SEND peers. Providers should consider what preparation and support students with SEND would need in order to access industry placements, and complete them successfully. Providers should use available industry placement capacity and delivery funding, alongside other available funding where appropriate (for example, High Needs or Disadvantage Funding) to provide additional support in the workplace and assist with reasonable workplace adjustments. This could include the services of an independent workplace mentor or, where students have more complex needs, a job coach.

Clear and pre-determined outcomes

The principles above outline the key differences between ‘work experience’ commonly offered as part of 16 to 19 study programmes and more substantial ‘industry placements’ that will form an integral part of T Levels, namely, the strong emphasis on pre-defined and sector specific learning aims. The industry placement should provide the real life learning environment to develop and hone the technical skills and behaviours required for the relevant industry. We have specified a longer duration to ensure that students are given sufficient time to master essential skills and develop their strengths; and the employer has the opportunity to develop the students’ technical abilities so they can add value to the business. The time in the workplace must have a clear structure and learning objectives to ensure students get the best from their industry placement; thereby enabling them to secure skilled employment in their field as a result.

For reference please see the assessment forms (PDF, 278KB, 6 pages) that can be used to complete assessments of student work readiness prior to the placement, and then subsequently their progress at mid-point and post placement, developed for pilot.

Timing and duration

We have provided illustrative examples (PDF, 326KB, 3 pages) that were developed for the pilots for planning the allocated time into the curriculum, using the day release and block placement industry placement options. These examples have been tested through the pilots. It is anticipated that employers from different industries will have their own preferences as to when to host industry placements during the academic year. We ask that providers offer a degree of flexibility when negotiating the timing and pattern of the placement with employers.

The industry placement should be within the academic timetable as far as possible and providers should ensure there are adequate flexibilities within the term time curriculum for students to undertake their placement. However, we recognise that in some occupations, peak times will either be seasonal or fall outside the providers’ normal working hours, such as catering, hospitality or events management.

Building internal capacity

We recommend that providers take a whole organisation approach to planning the introduction of substantial industry placements and ensure that this is fully integrated into the core business. In the process of completing the implementation plan, we asked providers to forward plan for the next 2 to 3 years and consider staffing and other capacity issues. By September 2018, we would expect to see progress against these plans. In particular, evidence of the recruitment of dedicated staff to begin sourcing placements; re-training of existing staff; and student work preparation/employability training and time out on placements integrated into the curriculum for delivery from the autumn term.

Collaboration with employers

The department does not underestimate the scale of the challenge to create high quality industry placement opportunities for all technical students in future, in particular, the importance of securing willing employers to host substantial industry placements. When completing implementation plans, providers were asked to set out their overarching employer engagement strategy, including the requirement to identify appropriate employers within the local area and invest time to build networks and relationships, so that providers can successfully deliver high quality industry placements at scale.

Collaboration with other providers

We recognise providers’ experience of delivering work placements of this nature varies considerably. Smaller and/or less experienced providers may encounter various challenges when building their industry placement offer from scratch. We would expect that leading providers who are actively delivering work placements will share their local knowledge and expertise (including good practice and materials/tools).

We also recommend that smaller providers collaborate with other neighbouring or similar providers for economies of scale, by being open to pooling resources, for example, hiring a cross-site work placement coordinator and/or sharing the operational responsibilities. It is important that neighbouring providers work together and in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce and/or other local employer representatives, to develop a coordinated local employer engagement strategy.

We have provided illustrative examples (PDF, 326KB, 3 pages) of use of funds and options for collaboration to achieve this common goal.

We hope that all eligible providers take full advantage of this opportunity and use this advice to aid the delivery of high quality work placement programmes from 2018 to 2019.

Industry Placement Pilot 2017 to 2018

A pilot scheme (run by the Challenge) ran throughout the academic year 2017 to 2018 to trial the delivery of effective industry placements. The pilot worked with 21 post-16 providers and hundreds of employers to identify best practice for delivering high quality industry placements.

The Challenge have published a set of useful resources to support providers in delivering industry placements, these are now available on the AOC website. A second set of resources will be available from July 2018.

We would encourage providers to make maximum use of these resources.

Further guidance on the delivery of industry placements

The additional guidance below is based on lessons learnt and best practice from the industry placement pilot that ran in 2017 to 2018 academic year and the questions that have been raised since the original publication of this guidance in September 2017.

Industry placements not restricted to the first T Levels

It is important to note that industry placements delivered in 2018 to 2019 are not restricted to the first 3 T Level pathways and in fact can relate to any of the 25 T Level routes (see the Occupational Maps for reference) that will be introduced. CDF funding is to support providers to prepare for the successful delivery of high quality industry placements across all relevant subject areas and industries when all T Levels have been rolled out.

Although, there are no restrictions to which students providers place on an industry placement, best practice and evidence from the pilot shows that it is more beneficial for the student to undertake their placement in the second year of their study programme. This is because the student will have had a significant period of time in the first year to build up the skills and knowledge required to make the most of the placement, adding value because they are able to get more involved in tasks, take on greater responsibility and therefore have a better opportunity to develop these skills and have a meaningful placement. Therefore, we advise that these placements take place in year 2.

Also, now T Levels are confirmed as level 3 programmes we are also increasing the emphasis on level 3 students. Therefore for delivery in 2019 to 2020 academic year we are introducing a requirement to prioritise level 3 placements (see the CDF factsheet). The combination of sending year 2 and level 3 students on placement will be more beneficial to providers, as it will increase the likelihood that employers will be satisfied with the experience of offering students placements, and therefore more willing to continue to offer placements again.

We are aware that for some courses this may be more difficult, so where this is the case then it would be acceptable for students to start their placement towards the end of the first year of their study programme as long as they have undertaken sufficient work experience and/or preparation as part of their programme, to ensure they are ready for the placement.

Minimum of 3 review points – start, middle and end of placement

Providers should visit the student on placement at the start (such as, within the first month of starting), middle and end of the placement, at a minimum. The purpose of these site visits is to:

1) Check the appropriateness of and progress towards the student’s technical learning objectives that were agreed up front and ensure the student is continually being stretched, not performing menial tasks that do not support their technical skills development. Objectives should be updated to make them more stretching if necessary.

2) Check the students’ wellbeing and satisfy themselves that student is not being overworked, the hours are manageable, they are happy within the workplace, have developed relationships with employees and they are content with the pace of their training. This is especially important when the student is on a block placement, when they will have limited contact with the provider for the duration of their placement.

3) Discuss any issues with the employer regarding the placement, student’s behaviour or work ethic. The employer will want assurances that they’ve got some provider support where necessary and a point of contact within the provider – this helps build and sustain relationships.

Providers are expected to confirm that the placement has been completed to satisfaction, so providers will need to collect evidence during the placement to base this judgement on and should complement the evidence collected in the student’s log book. This can be achieved most effectively through a 3-way face-to-face conversation between the employer, provider and student and supplemented with telephone calls or contact via email with the employer and informal contact with the student in the interim.

The frequency of these supplementary conversations should be at the providers’ discretion. We’d expect providers to prioritise students that need additional support or where the employer or student has raised concerns. It will also depend on the timing models providers have adopted – for day release, meetings of this nature will be less frequent as we’d expect that checking in with students whilst they’re back in college/school, could be more convenient.

Accounting for sickness in attendance record

In the case where students are off sick during their industry placement for 1 to 5 days over the duration of the placement, this can be absorbed into the placement hours. Where the student’s sickness exceeds 5 days or the student is off long-term, we would expect that providers to make arrangements with the relevant employer to extend the placement as far as possible, to allow the student make up this time and complete their placement to satisfaction, alongside their studies.

Employer reference

On completion of the industry placement, the employer does not assess students’ progress formally, however the employer will be expected to confirm that the student attended the whole time and give an appraisal of the progress the student made against their learning objectives. This should be discussed at the final review meeting with the provider, so that the provider can make the judgement as to whether the placement is completed satisfactorily. We would encourage employers to complete a student reference. Further resources to support providers with this will be published shortly.

Student satisfaction survey

We would encourage students to complete a satisfaction survey that accounts for their end-to-end experience (including work preparation, matching to employers and their time in at the workplace) and whether this met their expectations and they would recommend undertaking an industry placement to their peers. The details could be fed back to the employer with the agreement of the student. It is important that students, providers and employers can learn from the student’s experience and this evidence can be used by providers to help improve their provision.

Further resources to support providers with this will be published shortly.

Safeguarding Learners from Abuse/Bullying and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace

In arranging industry placements, we would not ordinarily expect providers to DBS check the employer or their employees, since this is unnecessarily onerous in terms of employers willing to offer industry placement and for institutions to administer this. However, we would expect to see evidence of the following:

a) That students have been prepared for the workplace in terms of specific advice on how to deal with any instances of bullying/abuse or behaviour which they consider to be inappropriate. This would be expected to include briefing/training for the young people to identify what would constitute any of these and how to deal with this in the workplace and raise concerns immediately with their education provider contact for them to intervene.

b) The monitoring visits to students should include a distinct component to discuss and confirm the safeguarding well-being of the student, particularly from abusive or inappropriate behaviour, which they may have encountered in the workplace.

c) That industry placements that are for periods of longer than one month especially in more isolated scenarios, because of geography or very low numbers of employees (or sole employers), are risk assessed and that more regular contact with the student is carried out, including by phone, specifically on the point of safeguarding their well-being and welfare.

Where a student has a need for personal or health care due to a disability, the person providing that personal or health care may be required to obtain an enhanced DBS check and such a check should be undertaken if the activity constitutes regulated activity relating to children.

At their discretion, the provider may also choose to ask a line manager or supervisor to undergo a basic DBS check if they feel this is necessary, in situations such as where the student may be vulnerable or where the placement has a residential component. This is not a legal requirement but can be requested at the discretion of the provider.

Data collection for CDF Industry Placements

We will be issuing new guidance on how to record CDF industry placements in the ILR and School Census very soon, which will coincide with the updated version of the ILR and school census user manuals for 2018 to 2019.

CDF industry placements are to take place on top of the existing study programme hours and providers have been allocated CDF funding in addition to mainstream funding for eligible students, as stated in our 2018 to 2019 factsheet on GOV.UK. We have introduced a new learning aim on the ILR and the school census, specifically for recording industry placements, for monitoring and funding purposes and this will help to differentiate between industry placements and external work experience that forms part of the students’ Employability, Enrichment and Pastoral (EEP) study programme hours.

It is also important to note that, as things stand, where hours are currently spent on work experience that is an existing and compulsory part of a study programme, these cannot be counted towards the industry placements hours delivered through CDF because providers are already being government funded for these through mainstream funding. This is unless students are able to do the required industry placement hours (minimum of 315) on top of those hours for the existing work experience that are recorded as planned ‘qualification hours’ on the ILR and school census. As we set out in the consultation response, we will be working with the sector over the coming months to consider whether any flexibilities should be applied.

Travel time

When recording the planned hours for industry placements using the new learning aim, providers should include the time spent in the workplace, but must not include the travel time to and from the workplace, unless this exceeds 1 hour each way. We understand that in some rural locations, the commute time to employer premises can be excessive and/or may be restricted by local transport. We would expect providers to use the funds available through CDF and the bursary top up that has been provided to providers in receipt of CDF to support student access, to explore cost effective local solutions as we want to avoid compromising the quality of the placement by reducing the hours in the workplace. As it stands, the 315 hours minimum is set on the ILR and if the hours do not meet this then the placement cannot be counted as an industry placement. It is possible that in future we may be able to apply some flexibility if there is enough evidence to support this case, so where providers are really struggling to broker suitable local transport arrangements, we encourage providers to get in contact to explain their situation.

Lunch breaks

The lunch hour can be included in the working hours so long as it does not exceed 1 hour.

Payment of students

Industry placements are about providing students with high quality, meaningful training, not work. Therefore, students on an industry placement should not be entitled to a salary as the placement is forming part of a course of secondary education. There is no legal requirement or expectation that students will be paid. We recognise that for some employers, any type of unpaid placement would discourage them from taking part in the programme, so they are able to pay students should they wish to. In taking this approach, our aim is to ensure as many students and businesses as possible benefit from industry placements and to prevent students facing any avoidable costs.

HSE advice

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on work experience covers provider and employer responsibilities and is relevant to Industry Placements. Providers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the HSE guidelines.

Further information

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 28 September 2017
Last updated 9 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. This document has been updated to include lessons learnt and best practice from the industry placement pilot.
  2. First published.