Despite the great demand for skilled workers in the STEM industries, employers are struggling to find and retain the young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the workplace.

A recent survey from PWC found that 84% of British bosses are concerned about the finding young people with the right skills. Employers look for industry specific skills when hiring graduates. It is therefore important to invest in the next generation of workers and give undergraduates the opportunity to develop these vital employability skills.

Summer placements are extremely beneficial for students and employers alike.  Hosting a placement enables an employer to create links with universities which can offer longer-term possibilities including research opportunities and strong brand recognition amongst students. An employer can benefit from accessing a talented, enthusiastic member of staff who can help with project work and fill capacity during the summer. Not to mention that investing in industrial placements will provide the scientists of the future with the practical skills necessary to succeed in graduate positions. Employers have, however, reported limitations with the traditional summer placement model, including not being able to establish a strong relationship during the placement and after inductions, the student not having long enough to produce meaningful work.

In response to this, the Industry Degree Scheme (IDS) has been developed by industry bodies and employers representing the Science Industry Partnership (SIP). Employers within the SIP recognise the importance of developing the next generation of scientists through offering industrial placements. The Scheme builds upon the traditional summer placement model by offering a minimum of two summer placements which enables employer and students to build a long term relationship. The IDS incorporates existing degree programmes from a network of universities with a minimum of two summer placements which are undertaken in the ‘sponsor’ company. Students are linked with the sponsor company for the duration of the scheme and graduate with an enhanced degree potentially leading to a full time position in the sponsor company. Through the IDS, students will develop sector specific and company abilities and then be equipped to enter a professional role upon completion of their degree.

Employers are able to develop a longitudinal relationship with potential employees whilst they are undertaking their academic programme, minimising the risks of recruitment and retention of graduates within the sector.  Employers will engage with students in their first year of study and help them to develop and learn in line with company policy and requirements. The student will acquire the skills and training in the first placement to jump straight into meaningful work in their second placement. At the end of the placement, the student will have company specific knowledge ideally leading to a full time position.

Cogent, the expert delivery partner of the SIP plays a pivotal role in matching employer needs with students who are developing the knowledge base and wider qualities sought by the company. The Industry Degree Scheme will provide more opportunities for students to gain the hands on experience they are currently lacking, helping to reduce the skills gap. Employers taking part will contribute to the development of a future talent pool with the capabilities that the science sector needs for years to come.

For more information about the Science Industry Partnership or Industry Degree Scheme please email