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9th June, 2008

Arts Council England commissioned research report Work placement Toolkit

TOOLKIT is a publication that has been commissioned by Arts Council England. It builds upon the findings of an earlier study on work placements in the arts and cultural sector, undertaken in 2006. View the report here.

It provides information, templates and case studies which are designed to promote employability, accountability, high performance and fairness in work placement provision in the sector. The research team, Professor Mustafa Ozbilgin (University of East Anglia) and Dr Ahu Tatli (Queen Mary, University of London), in collaboration with a steering group, designed these toolkits. They are being made freely available to higher education institutions, students and arts and cultural industries organisations. The project was steered and facilitated by Evelyn Wilson, Senior Manager, LCACE.

During the first phase of the research, it was revealed that despite evidence of some examples of good practice in work placements of university students in arts/cultural organisations, there is still room for progress.

The main recommendations are as follows:

  • HEIs should sustain and strengthen their provision for supporting students.
  • HEIs should provide more formal structures for advice and guidance to students undertaking work placements.
  • Better monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of work placements are needed.
  • Better equality and diversity monitoring should be undertaken by both HEIs and the arts sectors.
  • Hosting organisations should provide clear guidelines for the work placement.
  • Placements shouldn’t be seen as free labour.
  • Students should be encouraged to write work placement project proposals.
  • Their role and responsibilities should be specified as clearly as possible.
  • Students should be encouraged to gain knowledge about the arts sector and supported to establish new networks during the course of their placements.
  • Formal mechanisms should be introduced to: ensure adequate health and safety conditions, to protect students against exploitation, bias and discrimination in the workplace.

In this document, we offer toolkits for higher education institutions, students and host organisations in the arts and cultural industries. We first explain our terms of reference in a glossary, followed by a business case for more structured work placements in the arts and cultural industries.

The toolkit offers a one-stop-shop for students, and placement coordinators in higher education institutions and arts and cultural organisations. We have differentiated our advice, guidelines and exemplary procedures for these three groups (work placement students, universities and organisations in the sector). For each guide, we adopt a timeline of before, during and after the work placement, as work placements involve different set of activities for the three parties through this process. In each work placement guide, we then offer specific advice for possible ways of approaching placements, supporting documentation and examples from practice. It is possible for you to adopt aspects of the toolkit and customise to suit your needs.

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