Northern Industry Student Placement Program (NISPP)

Employers – let a tertiary student complete a workplace project for you

NISPP connects local businesses with tertiary students from leading higher education providers so that businesses benefit from their expertise and students gain valuable workplace experience. Local organisations in the North (including manufacturers and supply/value chain are welcome to participate.

The service is easy, flexible and available to businesses of all sizes to:

  • Draw on temporary talent for a specific workplace project
  • Bring new skills and ideas into your organisation
  • Get a fresh perspective on your business
  • Attract potential full-time or part-time employees
  • Build links with local tertiary institutions

Benefits to your business

  • Motivated, knowledgeable students
  • Access to the latest ideas and practices
  • Flexible timeframes
  • Short or longer-term projects
  • Broad range of study areas
  • Suitable for businesses of all sizes
  • Low-risk way to assess future employees
  • Productive people with the latest skills

Quick link: click to submit your student placement opportunity

Steps to engaging student skills in your business

1. List your opportunity for a student placement click to submit your student placement opportunity. This should take less than 10 minutes.
2. You will be sent resumes of students interested in your placement opportunity. You can then speak to the students and choose the right student for your business needs.
3. The placement agreement is negotiated between you, the student and the education provider.
4. You’ll be supported by the education providers to streamline administration, and the team from NORTH Link will follow up to ensure the process is successful.

More information

For more information please contact Tony Coppola via email or phone (03) 9479 3325.

See the FAQs about utilising student skills in your business. Click here.

What exactly is a student placement?
Placements are programs where a university or TAFE student works for an organisation before completing their studies. These placements provide students with valuable work experience and employability skills. In some cases, students need to undertake a placement before they can complete their course and graduate.

Do I pay the student?
Student placements can be paid or unpaid, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009. Some students must undertake a paid placement as part of their course (usually at Award wage), while others are able to take an unpaid placement. You can nominate if you're willing to consider a paid placement when you submit your placement opportunity.
Note that a number of placement opportunities are advertised and students will generally choose a paid placement over one that is unpaid. For unpaid placements, we ask that you pay students a small daily amount to cover their food and transport.

It’s also important to note that, for some undergraduate students to be able to work on an unpaid placement, your business must have a person who is degree-qualified in that field to supervise the work.

Who covers the student's insurance?
Usually the education provider can cover the student's insurance. When you and the student agree to a placement, the provider will ensure that the placement meets their insurance requirements. To be covered by the education provider’s insurance, it is essential that you complete an agreement form that is signed by the provider, the student and you. This must be signed before the student commences work.

How do I know if my project/work fits academic requirements?
Each education provider and course has different requirements, so there is no single answer.

As a general guide, university students on an individual unpaid placement must work on site at your workplace. They need to be supervised by a person with a degree in the relevant field. And the placement must be a defined project that adds value to your business, not just completion of daily duties. In some cases, these placements will also be for a set number of hours.

Other placements can take place off-site and do not always need to be project based. There are also some opportunities for groups of students to work on a single project, either in the classroom or on site.
After you submit your placement opportunity to NISPP, education providers will contact you to discuss and if necessary work with you to see if your placement request can be modified to fit with their course requirements.

How long is a placement for?
Placements can range in length, depending on course requirements and student availability. You can talk to the education provider and student to decide on a time frame that suits everyone. Some courses require students to complete a minimum number of hours in their placement.

What time of year are students available?
Generally, students are available for placement at different times throughout the year. This can be negotiated with the tertiary institution and the student.

Do placements have to fit with school terms?
No. Most placements can begin at any time and students can work during their breaks. You can negotiate this with the student and the education provider.

Some placements may be best aligned with:
• semesters: March – June / July – November
• holiday breaks: June – July / December – February.

How does the process work?
• You send us your expression of interest through our online form.
• We include your information on a placement summary, speaking with you if necessary to get further details.
• We circulate the placement summary to all 4 NISPP tertiary institution partners – La Trobe University, RMIT University, Kangan Institute and Melbourne Polytechnic.
• University/TAFE staff may contact you to clarify some points.
• They advertise your placement to suitable students by a range of methods.
• Student applications are shortlisted by the university/TAFE.
• Up to 3 resumes from each institution will be sent to you.
• You conduct interviews and select the student who best suits your needs.
• You notify the institution and NISPP of your choice.
• You negotiate hours and days with the student.
• You, the student and the institution sign a work placement agreement and insurance form.
• At the end of the placement, NISPP will contact you to find out how the process worked for you and if it could be improved.
• You keep NISPP informed of any future dealings you have or plan to have with the institution.

Can students work off site?
Sometimes – it depends on the course requirements. Most unpaid undergraduate placements will need to be on site at your workplace.

After I submit a placement, how long will it be before a student starts with us?
It varies. Placements will generally be subject to student availability, the responsiveness of education providers and your own selection process. The more notice you give us, the better the result will be for you and for the student.

What can I do to make sure the placement is successful?
As this is part of their studies, students have a real incentive to do well. You can help them by:
• clearly communicating the aims and expectations of their tasks
• creating a position description
• appointing a staff member who will be available for questions
• providing students with feedback on their work.

Who are the students available for placement?
Students are undertaking undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, associate degrees, diplomas and certificate courses. You’ll find that the students are keen to put into practice what they have learned through their studies so far and to acquire new skills.

What industry areas does NISPP cover?
Following are examples of the industry areas covered by NISPP:
accounting, biomedical sciences, building, business, childcare, commerce, communications, community services, computing, construction, design, digital media, engineering, environment and sustainability, events, food technology, health, IT, tourism and science.

How does a student placement benefit business?
Having a tertiary student on placement can benefit your business in a number of ways. You can draw on temporary talent with current knowledge and skills for a specific workplace project. They will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives into your organisation. A placement gives you the opportunity to ‘try out’ potential employees. You’ll also build links with local tertiary institutions, which could offer you other opportunities, such as R&D links, for the future.

How does a student placement benefit the student?
Students gain real-world workplace experience, adding to their resume and their employability. They can apply the theory and practice gained during their academic studies in a working context, providing additional benefits. And they gain valuable skills relating to teamwork, management and organisational skills.

How does a student placement benefit our region?
Melbourne’s North benefits from a student placement program because it ensures that learning meets business needs and that the region has skilled and work-ready employees for the future.

See what businesses and students say about NISPP. Click here.

Case study, employer: In Home Care|
“Our business provides home care services throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. With the introduction of the NDIS we’re growing quickly and were happy to have the extra help that a student could provide.

Our office is very busy and we made sure Liam was immersed in everything that went on so he could get a good understanding of what we do. Before he started we developed a detailed position description that listed tasks we needed done, who our contact person was and our deadlines. That worked well.

We’ve been extremely happy with Liam. He pitched in wherever we needed him. We quickly realised how switched on he was and gave him work with more responsibility. He was more than capable of complex tasks and he was so efficient we had to keep thinking of more things to give him. We hadn’t expected that.

Liam was our second student placement and the first one was very successful too. Based on two positive experiences, we’d definitely consider another placement in the near future.  We really enjoyed having Liam in our workplace. He was so good that we’ve offered him an ongoing position.”
Rachel Fenn, Client & Quality Manager

Case study, student: In Home Care
"In Home Care was a great placement because it’s a busy office with lots going on. The people were helpful and they really care about what they do. Over the time I did lots of different jobs. I organised carer timesheets, entered information and amended the database, discussed service dates with clients, liaised with the TAC and did some bookkeeping.

My TAFE studies were useful because they related to what I was doing at work. Already knowing MYOB meant I could adapt quickly to the office database system. Our communications subjects helped me how to communicate with people in the office and understand people’s different styles. I know how important it is to work well in a team.

I hadn’t thought of working in the health or disability field before I did my placement. Now I know it’s the field I want to specialise in. Dealing with a wide range of clients was really interesting and I felt like I was doing something to help the community. That was a real motivation and the best part of the job. My work placement was such a good experience. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me realise I want to learn more, so I’m going continue studying to diploma level."
Liam Nuttman, Kangan Institute – Certificate III in Business Management and Certificate III in Accounts Administration (dual qualification)

Case study, employer: Nobody Denim
All our clothes are made in China these days, right? Wrong. Fashion innovator Nobody Denim designs, manufactures and distributes Australia-wide. They recently engaged with NISPP and worked with a team of RMIT University students to undertake an export market intelligence project.
Nobody began as a small family-built denim laundry in the backstreets of Melbourne in 1999. Today they sell in major stores and niche boutiques across the country. Nobody Denim’s Managing Director, John Condilis, explained that the company supports ethical labour practices and has a strong commitment to manufacturing in Australia. Integral to its planning for future growth is a focused export strategy.

“Through NISPP, we linked with a group of RMIT University international marketing students. They developed a market intelligence report that gave us comprehensive current information to inform our export planning.

The opportunity to undertake a NISPP project came at the right time. I wanted to have access to current market intelligence to help us decide which export markets to investigate further.  We’re the only company in Australia that covers the whole spectrum – design to distribution – in this sector. To succeed we need to bring in external expertise and working with this group gave us great outcomes quickly.

The project wasn’t too time-consuming from my perspective. All up, I spent about ten hours over three months. There was an hour or two briefing the students about the business in the beginning, then I engaged with them online once a month to answer questions and give direction.
The biggest challenge for me was not being sure of what I was going to get in terms of student output. I didn’t know if they could deliver on their promise. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The university obviously provided them with a high level of advice and direction.

The students worked in five or six groups, each taking a specific region to investigate. At the end of the project each group of students presented to us. All their output was valuable but some was outstanding, well beyond what I’d expected. I couldn’t believe the amount of data they’d collected, the focused strategies and the deep thought behind their analysis and the different options presented. We have a big focus now on export and this report has given us confidence in our export directions. It also outlined the challenges we’ll face and the opportunities offered by each market. It’s helped us make informed decisions.

I’ve come to realise that tertiary institutions can offer significant resources to businesses like mine. It’s a win-win situation. Without this sort of interaction industry will struggle to invest the time and money required to get current, high level expertise for specific projects, and students won’t get real-world experience. It gives us an opportunity to identify students who stand out, and to assess the value they would bring to our business. And when this sort of project succeeds, businesses become a lot more confident in hiring young people.

I’d definitely work with students again. This whole project was brilliant. The data they provided will help our business to survive, grow and build our export future.

Case study, employer: Moreland City Council
Melbourne Polytechnic students worked with council on this pilot early intervention employment project to facilitate better connections between young people and entry level employment opportunities.

“Thank you for matching us with two spectacular students who were a joy to work with and who surprised us with their impressive level of job maturity. Both displayed a level of professionalism that meant the support we had to provide was minimal and the output we gained was what we would expect from employees with much more experience. We’ve encouraged both to apply for jobs through Council and use us as referees. They were gems.”
Kathy Rose, Industry Facilitation Officer

Case study, student: Moreland City Council
“Before coming to Australia, I had worked in some business environments – mainly in administration, with some HR and marketing. However, I didn’t have any workplace experience here other than volunteering for a small not-for-profit organisation. I knew it was important to show I’m employable, so I looked for a placement opportunity.

My role at Moreland City Council involved working on a marketing evaluation process. Council had partnered with Coles to hold a pilot early intervention employment program for young people but they had limited time and resources to evaluate project outcomes. Together with another student we assessed feedback from participants, designed and delivered pre and post program surveys, held interviews and drafted a final evaluation report.

During the time, I was on placement I was studying a market research unit at Melbourne Polytechnic, so this placement enabled me to put into practice everything I was learning. I really enjoyed that because it meant I understood the task at hand and could contribute something useful to the program.

Real workplace experience has helped me a great deal. I’m more confident of my abilities and I’ve gained valuable knowledge regarding working with people from different cultures. The best part was working in a team to develop strategies and deal with different issues. The biggest challenge was overcoming self-doubt about my work, but I put in my best effort. As a result, my supervisors were happy with the outcomes. They gave me very positive feedback and offered to act as referees for me in the future, which is fantastic!”
Memory Chamunorwa, Melbourne Polytechnic - Bachelor of Business (Management)

Case study, employer: Brauz
"Student placements really work for us because they give us access to fresh minds. We're dealing with technology that hasn't been done before. Students think fast and it's easier to mould them into the staff members we need. They're very keen, hands-on and very proactive.

Our corporate culture is an embracing one. We don't put the students in a corner and expect them to succeed. They're part of our team from day one. Before they start with us we ask what they want to achieve and we try to make that happen. They're excited to be part of Brauz and a number have gone on to employment with us.

A class of 14 MBA students undertook a project that studied different global markets for us. We opened our business to them and all our staff were on board. These students went well beyond what we expected and we're very happy with the results, which are already informing our future planning."
Jason Frew, Relationships Manager

Case study, student: Brauz
“A student placement at retail tech start-up Brauz gave me fantastic experience and led to part time employment as their new Media Officer. I was keen to take an internship because I wanted to see how public relations work in a real-world environment while I was learning the theory at university. My role at Brauz is to ensure we use best communication channels to tell our story – that includes managing media relations, communication strategies, press releases, blog posts and more.  I love working as part of a dynamic team in a busy environment. It’s exciting and challenging to find solutions to issues and work through them. And so rewarding to get good results.

Internships are key to seeing which areas you’re strong at and where you need to put more effort and time in. They definitely built your professional networks – you never know who might notice you or where your passions and skills might take you.”
Ana Asanovic, La Trobe University – Master of Communications

Case study, student: Brauz
"I was keen to do a voluntary placement because I wanted tdo get expeirence in the industry and have that on my resume. Experience is important when I look for work in the future. Brauz is a friendly workplace and everyone made me feel very welcome. My role was a front-end development which involved being part of the team that was developing a website for one of Brauz's clients and it relates directly to my degree. I have a mentor here who guides me on how to do each task and I can ask him questions whenever I need to. I try my best to solve a problem but if I'm stuck, I go to my mentor. He listens to my ideas too, so I feel like a part of the team.

This was the right opportunity for me at the right time. Working for a small start-up means I work closely with people on real problems and find solutions that make a difference. In IT, things change all the time and it's been an excellent opportunity to learn and work with knowledgeable people using the very latest technologies."
Thanh Trung, Bachelor of Information Technology - La Trobe University

Case study, employer: Mitchell Shire Council
“Quynh was a lovely addition to our team and positive at all times. She helped us with set projects that we had limited time to complete ourselves. While she was here, Quynh undertook a variety of duties. These included assisting with our One Mitchell Positive Culture Program (attending meetings, assisting with the project), assisting with corporate in-house training and our Excellence Awards Program, completing a training matrix from data received from our performance development plans, and arranging presentation skills training for 12 staff members.

Quynh was extremely competent and engaging. She was slightly shy to begin with, but as time went on she came out of her shell. We made sure that we encouraged her and exposed her to a variety of situations and environments. The result was that she performed all her tasks very well.”
Katrina Neuhofer, Organisational Development Advisor

Case study, student: Mitchell Shire Council
“At Mitchell Shire Council, I’ve learned a lot. Everyone around me was very friendly and supportive. I was involved in different projects, including corporate in-house training. I completed the corporate in-house training guidelines, first aid inductions, in-house training content, also working in additional training sessions on customer services. I also designed training flyers for upcoming workshops. I worked on staff recognition projects, designing staff recognition guidelines and nominations. Another area is health and wellbeing, where I’ve learned about different programs including the Emerging Leader Challenge.

The placement experience gave me the opportunity to put the theory I learned at La Trobe into practice. When I’m doing something I look at the theory again and see what I can bring to my job. I refer to my notes so it all makes sense. My supervisor gave me a lot of motivation and was so supportive. That helped me do my job to the best of my ability. I learned so much more than I expected.

I see HR differently now. It’s not just theories and case studies. The work environment was so interesting, I loved seeing how everything happens and what everyone does. I’ve developed lots of new skills – communications, how to be well-prepared and organised, multi-tasking and being organised in the workplace. It’s been a great experience.”
Quynh Diem Tong, La Trobe University – Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management)



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