Leading the work experience revolution

At Ulster University employability is placed firmly at the heart of the student experience. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Paul Bartholomew, highlights how Ulster University is leading the work experience revolution to create highly-skilled, well-rounded graduates.

Ulster University is renowned for its industry connections. We understand the importance of developing graduates who not only have the academic knowledge, but also the practical skills to thrive in their chosen careers. To do this we work closely with industry to explore exactly what they require in their future workforce and create opportunities for our students to gain first-hand experience of the working world.

Ulster University is truly leading the work experience revolution with every full-time undergraduate student benefiting from work-based learning opportunities as an integral part of their degree. Every year over 2,000 Ulster University students also undertake year-long placements in industries spanning across manufacturing and IT, to health care and the creative industries.

Valuable work experience allows students to really immerse themselves in an industry sector and embed themselves in an organisation. This creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. Over a meaningful period of time, it allows students to build industry-relevant skills within a work-based context. For employers, they can benefit from an injection of fresh thinking and enthusiasm into the business. It also empowers them to take an active role in shaping the next generation of industry leaders.

In Northern Ireland our placement employer partners include leading global companies such as Citi, EY, Allen & Overy and PwC, as well as indigenous companies such as Randox, Dale Farm and First Derivatives. Time and time again these companies, and others, are employing highly-skilled Ulster University graduates on a full-time basis after witnessing first-hand their value during work placements.

We are also helping our students to gain experience on an international stage. On their return they bring with them new ways of thinking, doing and being. Graduates with this global experience can help to broaden business horizons and drive growth, and for this reason are highly sought after by employers.

One such employability initiative is Ulster University’s Global Ambassadors Scheme, which gives students the opportunity to take part in international work or study. As part of this scheme, we recently launched the Experience Nashville Programme. It builds upon Belfast’s first Sister City partnership with Nashville and offers a two-week cultural immersion opportunity for Ulster University students.

With the first cohort heading out to Tennessee this April, students will get the opportunity to engage with academics, employers and social enterprises in the not-for-profit sector. They will get to explore how creativity, entrepreneurship and social enterprise is being developed in Nashville and bring back key learnings and skills that will boost their CVs.

Last year, we also signed a partnership with the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston to provide J1 work visas to third year students seeking high quality, relevant, one-year paid internships in the United States. These are just a few examples of how we are delivering transformative international learning experiences for our students. Ulster University is providing work experience opportunities that really make a difference, both to the student and our employer partners. This early and significant exposure to industry ensures we deliver a pipeline of graduates who are ready to ‘hit the ground running’ and will drive business growth, both locally and further afield.

For further information on becoming an Ulster University work placement partner contact: Shauna McCloy, s.mccloy@ulster.ac.uk

For further information on Ulster University’s Global Ambassadors Programme contact: Roisin McEvoy, r.mcevoy@ulster.ac.uk

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