Forty University of Plymouth students have taken up work placements (year-in-industry) offered by world-leading businesses at Plymouth Science Park (PSP) in the past three years.

The successful scheme has proved popular with under-graduates and employers alike and has led to full-time roles for many of those taking part.

Between the second and final year of study, students have the opportunity to complete an optional work placement. Such an experience provides students with essential work experience and helps develop skills to support learning, it also enables them to start developing their own professional network.

The Careers Service at the university works closely with PSP and the businesses based there to encourage employees and students to work together for mutual benefit.

Dr Michael Green, Naval Systems Director, for surveillance, tracking and gunfire control specialists, Chess Dynamics, which has offices at PSP, said the scheme had worked well for them.

He explained: “We have hosted 13 placement students during the past few years and two of them are now in full time employment with us.

“Overall it has been a very positive experience and we are going to continue to play our part in promoting it.”

Michael said the students also added value to the business.

He added: “They often ask us why we do things the way we do and that’s really beneficial in enabling us to take a fresh look at things.

“We get some really good new ideas from them which, perhaps, weren’t on our radar.”

Matt Darvill, 23, is one of those who have benefited from the scheme.

After impressing during his year in industry at Chess, he was offered a full-time post as a Graduate Software Engineer.

Matt said: “I studied computer science at Plymouth as that is a subject which opens up a variety of avenues and paths in terms of employment.

“At university I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but the placement gave me an opportunity to see how I could apply what I’ve learned in the real world.

“I would highly recommend doing a placement as you can work alongside people who have been experts in their field for a long time and get their take on things.

“At first I didn’t really have an idea about what to expect but it has turned out brilliantly for me.”

Simon Taylor, Employer Engagement & Placement Manager at the university said:  “We work closely with PSP to give students access to placement opportunities and real life work experience, with some impressive businesses working in ground-breaking STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

“Students are invited and encouraged to discover the wealth of opportunities in the South West and at PSP and are supported by the university Careers Service throughout their second year to secure a dynamic and interesting placement.

“It is always fantastic to hear from employers and students about how well placements have gone, and to see a high proportion of students go on to gain full time employment after graduating.  We are also really keen to connect students and employers through wider engagement pieces, such as our professional mentoring programme, careers events and fairs and connecting employers into the curriculum.”

Many of the undergraduates who have taken on placements specialise in STEM subjects. Some employers and graduates have also benefited from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) STEM Graduates into Business Programme.

Fay Davies, Business Development Manager for PSP said: “It is fantastic to see Plymouth Science Park tenants nurturing emerging talent. We are passionate about supporting the businesses based at the park, and providing highly skilled undergraduates from the University of Plymouth is one of the ways we can do this. We are looking forward to continuing our work with the university and supporting graduates as they find high-skilled employment in the region.”