Universities Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Collaborative Education Network have collaborated to develop Australia’s first ever national work integrated learning strategy.
Work integrated learning (WIL) aims to integrate theory with practical work experience in education. While WIL is already established in some areas, like health and teaching, it less frequently used in emerging industries. WIL includes activities such as work placements, internships, shadowing programmes and practical projects. Thousands of employers already partner with universities to provide students with WIL experiences, but there has not yet been an overarching national strategy to guide its future growth.
Chief executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson, said that student demand for WIL is increasing, often outstripping available opportunities and that this strategy is about meeting this demand. “The strategy provides the opportunity for industry to play a practical role in giving students the skills and experience they need to match employer expectations,” she said. “These invaluable hands-on experiences help put a student’s education in context and make a real difference to the skills and capacity they can bring to the workplace. Through the implementation of this strategy we can expect more places for students in industry, better prepared graduates and a workforce that is more able to meet the growth needs of industry.
“The strategy is a both a call for collaboration and the result of it. It is designed to strengthen the partnerships needed to lift employment, productivity and international competitiveness. Given the global environment, Australia must leverage our strengths, diversify, develop and compete. It’s a challenge, but an exciting one. The strategy is both strategic and practical. It draws on a strong evidence base and the many excellent examples that already exist.”