Work integrated learning
Work integrated learning is increasingly being incorporated into qualifications to give graduates relevant work experience and allow them to apply skills they are learning in real time. The 2015 Graduate Outlook Survey shows that 32% of employers believe that higher education providers could better prepare their graduates for the workplace by requiring students to have completed industry based experience as part of their studies.5 The report suggests that graduates who participate in relevant work throughout their study are more likely to gain employment within their field of study shortly after graduation. Employers are more likely to hire graduates who have participated in work experience placements, internships or vacation work within their organisation.
Work integrated learning has been a key feature of all the pathway pilots. An example is the MBA higher apprenticeship where students’ job responsibilities increase in line with their level of study as they progress through the pathway. As a paid apprentice, graduates are also able to ‘learn as they earn’, helping to increase recruitment and retention.
Similarly, the associate degree qualification as part of the aged care pathway is entirely work-based. Assessment is work integrated and learning is applied to work-based challenges, allowing students to apply their learning directly to their workplace which further cultivates strong industry engagement. An evaluation of this pathway found that while students found adjusting to university level study challenging, the clear sense of how this was benefiting them in the workplace was a strong motivation to continue:
I am able to implement what I have learnt with my current clients from the material and information I have already gained in the course. It has made a difference in the way I look at my clients, how I deal with them and implement the care, in a positive way. It is benefiting our clients and that is the whole reason I am doing this. Our clients are benefiting from this even though we have not graduated yet.
- Student from aged care pathway
5 Graduate Careers Australia, 2016, Graduate Outlook 2015, The Report of the 2015 Graduate Outlook Survey: Perspectives on Graduate Recruitment