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The purpose of this paper is to examine the opportunities and challenges for Irish HEIs in engaging with these organisations through the student work placement process. While a substantial amount of valuable work has already been carried out by the REAP project in ascertaining the current state of work placement provision in Ireland and developing a general set of guidelines for good practice in placement for HEIs, employers and students, there is an opportunity to take this body of work a step further. Indeed, the main aim of this report is to present a best practice model for engagement on work placement between Irish HEIs and specific types of organisations, namely family businesses and community and voluntary groups, as a one-size-fits-all approach may not necessarily be the best way to deal with these organisations. The key questions this work will therefore address include how can HEIs reach these organisations and establish lasting partnerships with them? What kind of practical difficulties exist in this type of engagement? How can these obstacles be overcome? The paper will begin with a contextual overview of family businesses and community and voluntary groups in Ireland in order to convey the span of these organisations within the country and the vast experience they have to offer work placement students. An outline of the 6 results of a recent survey carried out by this research team, which examined the views of work placement practitioners in Irish HEIs, as well as those of representatives from family businesses, and those from community and voluntary groups, will then be presented. This paper will subsequently attempt to analyse the key challenges raised by this research, before presenting our conclusions and recommendations for best practice in this field. It is hoped that this report will be widely used as a support tool by HEIs in engaging with family businesses and community and voluntary groups in the placement process and that by doing so, placement will become a more straightforward and appealing form of engagement to these organisations.
Buckley, J. and el Amoud, L. Beyond Big Business. Opportunities and Challenges for Irish HEIs in Engaging with Family Businesses and Community & Voluntary Groups through the Student Work Placement Process. Cork Institute of Technology, 2014.