The Careers and Employability Centre at the University of Birmingham have had a resounding success, winning at both the third annual National Placement & Internship Awards (NPIA) and the ninth annual National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) awards. The Careers and Employability Centre have also been awarded with a ‘Highly Commended’ achievement for the Association of Graduate Recruiters ‘Preparation for Work (Higher Education)’ award.
At the NPIA the Careers & Employability Centre were awarded the title of Most Improved Commitment to Employability in recognition of their forward-thinking approach to Work Experience. The judging panel said “Birmingham demonstrated a significant increase in their investment and commitment to employability. Run centrally, the centre have doubled their team from 30 to 60 people in the past 4 years, allowing a broader range of skills and more specific positions to support students. They also appear to be integrating their work with individual schools, which as Stephen McAuliffe on the judging panel cited, is the major challenge to a careers service.”
At the NCWE it beat five other organisations including the Civil Service Fast Stream, to win the Best Public Sector Work Placement title. The university has been recruiting paid interns for more than five years and due to a recent expansion it takes around 25 national and international students annually. The students benefit from having a dedicated member of staff, the Student Engagement Officer, who co-ordinates and supervises the team’s work as well as providing individual mentoring/support. The judging panel commended the University of Birmingham for providing a well-steered career development opportunity for students.
Jessica Holloway Swift , Student Engagement Officer at the University of Birmingham comments: ”We are thrilled to become the first university to win the Best Public Sector Placement at the NCWE awards. As a careers service, we are acutely aware of the value of work experience and have endeavored to offer our student interns a remarkable range of opportunities to gain skills and learn to self-reflect on these skills. By recognising our student interns’ expertise, we are changing the ways in which we work and operate which is positively impacting on the employability of all the University of Birmingham students. We intend to expand this programme, so more students will have chance to benefit from this unique and valuable scheme.”
Mike Hill, chief executive of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, which operates the NCWE says: “We’re now in the ninth year of the NCWE Awards, so it’s good to see so many new companies entering as well as organisations that take part year after year. The University of Birmingham is a well deserved winner. The students help the university reach its target audience and find out more about them, much more than most companies dream of doing.”