$2M for edtech company Practera to develop world leading student data privacy technology

Education Technology (EdTech) startup Practera and its collaboration partners have been awarded $1.995 million in government funding as part of a $7.45M project to develop a data privacy protection product for online student data.

Practera’s was one of sixteen projects awarded a total of $30 million by the Commonwealth’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) Round 7 grants program. Collaboration partners in the project include CSIRO’s Data61, University of South Australia, global education company Navitas, Education Technology peak body EduGrowth, and cyber security solution provider Cybermerc.

Learning analytics and AI research while preserving student privacy

The project will develop a product for education providers to provably preserve the privacy of student data records. This will enable education companies to maximise the value of their student datasets, for example in learning analytics and training of artificial intelligence algorithms. The product will be applied initially to Practera’s experiential learning platform which supports programs such as project programs, internships and skills credentialing.

EduGrowth CEO David Linke said that “Learners globally are demanding more control over the data from their learning.  So having Australia at the centre of building this incredibly important tool will be a global advantage for our education providers, the EdTech sector and most importantly the learners themselves.”

Ruth Marshall, Practera’s Director R&D and Data Integrity and leader of the project said “Learning Analytics on student data provides the insights that EdTech companies need to deliver increasingly valuable and personalised insights, evolve their products and compete in the global marketplace. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly important for EdTech systems to provably protect personal and confidential data.”

Global education companies need to meet increasingly complex privacy requirements

The CRC-P grant will pay for research to apply and further enhance privacy-preserving technology and techniques developed by CSIRO’s Data61 for other applications. “We are very interested to apply these techniques in the Education industry” said Professor Dali Kaafar, Group Leader of the Information Security and Privacy Group. “The techniques we have developed at Data61 aim to quantify and measure the “privacy risks” of personal identification or re-identification, and then reduce that risk using mathematically provable risk reduction techniques.”

Professor Kaafar elaborated, “Removing obvious identifiers such as names and addresses is not sufficient to protect users from re-identification, with a linking attack for example”. Linking attacks use data from other sources such as social media to determine the identity of individuals from an anonymized data set.  A famous example is New York City taxis who released a “de-identified” set of trip data in 2014 to have it re-identified within the hour using information found on Twitter and online news.

Marshall continued, “Edtech companies with global operations like Practera need to meet increasingly complex privacy requirements around the world. Provable anonymisation of data offers a tremendous business advantage. Our customers like Universities and education providers like Navitas will be increasingly required to prove that their data remains private under regimes like the EU’s GDPR. This is becoming more important as multiple systems are used, some or all operate in the cloud and the provider has multinational operations.” The project will enhance the privacy & security capabilities of Practera in the first instance, but we certainly envisage that we are building product in its own right with application for other EdTechs.”

Media Contact

Ruth Marshall

Mob. +61 0411 222 040

Email ruth@practera.com

Bold new plan to make Queensland a global skills destination

Queensland is set to attract its “unfair share” of global talent following the launch of Australia’s largest ever student career development drive.

International Education Ministerial Champion Kate Jones today launched the Study Queensland Talent Program which will be available to all students studying in Queensland.

The Study Queensland Talent Program will offer new employer engagement programs to all students to build their 21st-century skills as well as e-portfolio and micro-credentialing app to help them record their experiences and achievements in real time. 

Ms Jones said the program would position Queensland to be able to offer students world leading recognition of the skills they develop alongside their study to better prepare them for their future career.

“We have great education and training providers and some of the world’s leading tourism destinations,” she said.

“We want to make sure everyone who gets an education in Queensland builds authentic connections and has great employment prospects, both here and globally. That’s what this program is all about.

“It’s also part of our plan to attract more international students to study in Queensland.”

The $1.6 million program will be funded through the Queensland Government International Education and Training Strategy.

The Start Here Go Anywhere e-portfolio and micro-credentialing app – which is currently being piloted in Cairns – will be rolled out across the state in coming months.

Ms Jones said the app would encourage students to take up new and existing employability programs and enable students to record their participation in activities to help build their extra-curricular profile, allowing them to be more attractive to global employers.

Importantly, she said the program would be supported by a new Study Queensland Employer Champion Groups, which includes Urbis, Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation and Bank of Queensland.

“International education is Queensland’s fastest growing service export, last year injecting more than $5 billion into the economy,” she said.

“We want to grow this industry to create jobs for Queensland.”

The program will be delivered by Study Queensland, which is charged with implementing the International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland.

The program was launched at the Study Queensland International Education and Training Summit held in Brisbane this week.

Attracting more than 300 people, the summit explored ways to attract skills and talent from across the globe featuring TIQ Commissioners from China, Japan and ASEAN.

This is the media statement originally published in the Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory on June 26, 2019.

Practera Global Skills Passport App to support 12,000 Cairns-based students

Study Cairns has partnered with Study Queensland to launch a “world first” pilot program aimed at helping students get a foothold in the Cairns job market.

The Start Here, Go Anywhere Global Skills Passport is an app platform for 12,000 international and domestic students to build portfolios of globally relevant skills.

This app launch is part of Study Cairns Connects – a program designed to log employability experiences for domestic and international students and to engage a network of Cairns business, community and government organisations.

Study Cairns president Carol Doyle said the program offers students access to volunteering and internship programs which complement employability experiences offered by Cairns-based education providers.

“With Study Queensland’s international education tagline  ‘Start Here, Go Anywhere’, this exciting pilot project showcases the opportunity for international and domestic students to study in a unique regional Queensland location like Cairns”, she said. “Participation in the project empowers students to develop transferrable skills like service orientation, innovation, teamwork and communication.”

This is bold, world leading ‘region scale’ initiative and potentially serves as a pilot for broader adaption by other Queensland international education regions.”

The program is delivered in partnership with Australian edtech startup Practera, and is a personalised employability, e-portfolio & micro-credentialling app, available to 12,000 post-secondary students during their study in Cairns.

The Global Skills Passport and introductory workshops are designed to equip students with World Economic Forum skills based framework and issue open badge standard micro-credential certificates.

For students the resource provides a digital tool to help them to build and demonstrate the skills needed to succeed in the future of work. 

This article was published in the Cairns Post and DailyTelegraph

CRC Association partners with Practera to build Australia’s applied R&D skills

The CRC Association has partnered with edtech startup Practera to support the education and knowledge transfer activities of CRCs with the Practera experiential learning & micro-credentialing platform.

CRC Association CEO Tony Peacock announced the partnership during last week’s Collaborate | Innovate | 2019 conference. He said “The CRC Association is pleased to announce our partnership with Practera to develop a series of experiential learning products to help CRC’s enhance activities like industry skills development, PhD mentoring, innovation challenges and industry education. These programs are critical to build the impact skills of our scientists and to collaborate effectively with industry, but we often reinvent the wheel in these spaces. Practera offers the opportunity to provide digital templates that can be adopted and adapted by CRCs to use with their students and industry partners. Practera is a great Australian startup which brings to life a clear vision for work integrated learning and industry-research collaboration that closely aligns to the mission of the CRC program.”

Ruth Marshall, Practera’s R&D Director and a former Commercialisation Advisor for Data61 has been working with a small group of CRCs on developing prototype products. She ran a workshop at the conference to elicit best practices and demonstrate prototypes.


CRC's Educating for Impact

Mike Ridout, Innovation Broker and Education Director of the Food Agility CRC said “this project has the potential to help students and early career researchers develop needed business skills including teamwork and collaboration in an industry setting”

Liz Barbour, CEO of the Honey Bee Products CRC agreed – “this project will help develop solutions to challenges such as helping students get a more consistent and reliable mentoring experience, supporting students across different geographical locations.”

Ruth said “Practera will work with CRCs to develop a portfolio of useful digital experiences to facilitate students, researchers and industry practitioners undertake collaborative activities and develop their skills. High-quality experiential learning programs can be costly to run and are not easy to repeat because there are no economies of scale. Practera provides the digital tools to support the design and delivery of quality experiential learning courses at scale”.

The platform steps students through goal setting and skills-development planning framework with multiple opportunities for reflection. Students can earn micro-credentials for their achievements along the way, earning badges that can then be published to other platforms such as LinkedIn. Students can showcase the particular skills they have developed in their applied R&D projects, which are hugely valuable but may not otherwise be recognised in their formal academic achievements.

CRC Association

Enquiries: connect@practera.com

Practera Newsletter May 2019

This month in experiential learning

Industry news, customer success stories and product updates.

Hi there,

Practera works with educators around the world at the frontier of experiential learning for the future of work. Here is a snapshot of leading thinking and practice.


Interesting news in the world of experiential learning

Forbes published a commentary about a big shift that might impact Higher Ed sooner than expected. Instead of going to college to get a job, students will increasingly be going to a job to get a college degreeHow Great Teachers Are Thinking Outside the Classroom to Help Students LearnTheir classrooms are increasingly diverse, but their responsibilities remain the same: to ensure that all students have access to the learning opportunities that will help them be successful as students and throughout their lives.


Enabling inspiring experiential learning programs

More than 1,000 successful  participants in the Study Melbourne Live Projects Program paved the way for further investment to grow the initiative with Practera in 2019/20 – bigger and better than ever!. University of Melbourne launches Practera app to help students feel welcomed to campus, navigate the city of Melbourne, make the most of student life and develop their skills in a professional environment during their first month.

If you are looking to strengthen or setup your experiential learning program, schedule a free consultation with a senior member of our team


Building the worlds leading platform for experiential learning

We released Practera GO – a ready-to-go employability app solutions for innovative educators that has everything needed to launch world-class employability programs without worrying about budgets, learning content or administrative overhead. For current customers who want to discover the new benefits in a personalised training session – as usual: please reach out to your Practera representative and we are happy to schedule a meeting.


What we write, publish and present at events and conferences

The Co-operative Research Centre Association is developing a pilot Practera platform to support CRC’s in their education and knowledge transfer activities, including mentoring, challenge projects and applied research skills credentialling. If you’d like to learn more, Practera Director, R&D, Ruth Marshall will be delivering a prototype session at the Innovate Collaborate conference in Adelaide, May 28-30. [EduTech] Wes Sonnenreich, Practera Co-Founder and Co-CEO will be part of an EdTech expert paneat EduTech on June 7 (Free Event) [IET Summit] We will be sharing our insights about “Innovation in Employability” at the Study Queensland International Education & Training Summit Tuesday 26 June [CICE] Practera Canada Vice-President Megan Underwood will be speaking about the future of work at the Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2019) in Toronto, June 24-27 [GIC] Practera co-Founder & Co-CEO Beau Leese will be presenting with the University of Melbourne on the Study Melbourne LIVE Projects program at the Global Internship Conference in Auckland July 2-5 [NSEE] Practera US Vice-President Nikki James will be speaking with UNSW and Northeastern University at the NSEE (National Society of Experiential Learning Conference) September 23-25

We are excited about how experiential learning will change the way we teach and how it will prepare the next generation of learners for the future of work.

If you’d like to learn more or discuss your experiential learning program please contact us

Let's have a chat 
Beau Leese, Co-CEO

Practera launches ready-to-go learning apps for innovative educators who need to help students build employability skills

Practera, Australia’s leading experiential learning startup, today announced Practera GO, a new solution that provides everything needed to launch world-class employability programs without worrying about large budgets, new learning content or complex administrative overhead. 

A trend towards employability skills in Higher Ed

In recent years, higher education institutions have faced a new trend that requires adjustment to their strategy: More and more prospective students (and parents) carefully weigh up their future employment prospects when selecting degrees and universities.

This trend is fuelled by the fact that employers are demanding skills from graduates which are outside the subject area of study in Higher Education.

While still seen as necessary by employers, a graduate’s academic achievements are not sufficient for them to be recruited anymore. Instead, extracurricular activities such as work experience, volunteering, and involvement in clubs and societies are seen as having equal importance as the knowledge and experience acquired through academic study.

How does Practera GO help program managers?

Educators and program managers who need to offer extracurricular employability programs to their students can select from a curated list of high quality app experiences that come pre-loaded with all content and instructions to support learners and industry partners during their program. Free access to the Practera online admin and reporting tool allows program mangers to enrol participants, monitor progress and ensure employability skill development.

Every app includes all required content and a workflow that is validated by more than 10,000 students delivering successful projects for more than 2,000 industry partners. Based on the experiential learning pedagogy, Practera GO enables seamless feedback loops, which are crucial to develop employability skills.

Key Benefits

  • New employability programs can be created and rolled out in days or weeks instead of months
  • Students and industry partners get supported through mobile apps that structure their experience and automatically collect feedback
  • Program managers get actionable, real-time insights into exactly who needs support and what they should do about it

“Education providers are missing out on massive student engagement and satisfaction opportunities if they aren’t tracking and managing the individual student experiences during the project.”, says Suzy Watson, Co-Founder and Head of Customer Success. “We designed all app experiences based on the experiential learning pedagogy and curated the most relevant content and workflows that works ‘out-of-the-box. This helps professional staff, for example in the careers teams, to successfully roll out high quality programs to their students for a fraction of the cost.”

Are you interested to learn more? Get started for free!

Practera Newsletter April 2019

This month in experiential learning

Industry news, customer success stories and product updates.

Hi there,

Practera works with educators around the world at the frontier of experiential learning for the future of work. Here is a snapshot of leading thinking and practice.


Interesting news in the world of experiential learning

Northeastern University found that employers’ top priority recommendation for colleges and universities was to “include real-world projects and engagements with employers and the world of work” in their programmes

Austrade’s Innovation in Employability report was released at the Asia-Pacific International Education Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week. The report showcases strategies and initiatives to enhance the employability skills of international students across all Australian states.

Canadian Universities take collaborative approach to future skills development;

Australia reviews the future of micro-credentials in its Australian Quality Framework


Enabling inspiring experiential learning programs

The Australian Government (DFAT) has launched a national skills micro-credential pilot – the Australia Awards Global Skills Passport, on Practera through the Australia Awards Indonesia (AAI) program. 400 AAI Scholars will create an e-portfolio of enrichment experiences alongside their study against one of 6 Global Skill categories. (Product demo video)

Redfern Legal Centre supported by Study NSW, the City of Sydney and the Fair Work Ombudsman are launching this week a ground-breaking new multilingual legal advice app on Practera to international students studying in NSW. The app will provide international students with instant access to customised legal information around common issues, delivered in an interactive, video-based ‘face-to-face’ question and answer format in English and six other languages.

If you are looking to strengthen or setup your experiential learning program, schedule a free consultation with a senior member of our team


Building the worlds leading platform for experiential learning

Practera has taken a quantum leap – our latest release was a massive one. Highlights included;

Transitioning students and mentors to an upgraded mobile-first experience (New Practera App Video)

Launching our AI-powered Experiential Learning Support Assistant (ELSA), which offers personalised intervention options for educators based on common issues (Introducing ELSA Video)

Integrated badges, digital certificates and micro-credentialling into all aspects of the platform

Filesharing integrated to chat functionality

For current customers who want to discover the benefits of the new features in a personalised training session – as usual: please reach out to your Practera representative and we are happy to schedule a meeting.


What we write, publish and present at events and conferences

The Co-operative Research Centre Association is developing a pilot Practera platform to support CRC’s in their education and knowledge transfer activities, including mentoring, challenge projects and applied research skills credentialling. If you’d like to learn more, Practera Director, R&D, Ruth Marshall will be delivering a prototype session at the Innovate Collaborate conference in Adelaide, May 28-30.

Last week Practera Co-CEO Beau Leese helped launch Austrade’s Innovation in Employability report at the Asia-Pacific International Education Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The report showcases strategies and initiatives to enhance the employability skills of international students across all Australian states.

Practera Canada Vice-President Megan Underwood will be speaking at the Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2019) in Toronto, June 24-27

Practera co-Founder & Co-CEO Beau Leese will be presenting with the University of Melbourne on the Study Melbourne LIVE Projects program at the Global Internship Conference in Auckland July 2-5

Practera US Vice-President Nikki James will be speaking with UNSW and Northeastern University at the NSEE (National Society of Experiential Learning Conference) September 23-25

We are excited about how experiential learning will change the way we teach and how it will prepare the next generation of learners for the future of work.

If you’d like to learn more or discuss your experiential learning program please contact us.

Beau Leese, Co-CEO

Practera enables groundbreaking personalised legal assistance app

RLC international student solicitor Sean Stimson with the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, Sydney Town Hall. Image courtesy of Katherine Griffiths/City of Sydney.

Redfern Legal Centre is partnering with Sydney edtech provider Practera to deliver My Legal Mate, a legal assistant in international students’ pockets

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed international students to the city by announcing a groundbreaking mobile app technology which offers legal advice to international students. The My Legal mate in 6 community languages.

Practera app to help with most common legal issues

Created by the Redfern Legal Centre with funding from the City of Sydney, Study NSW and the Fair Work Ombudsman, the app has been built using the technology of Sydney based experiential learning startup Practera.

The app uses interactive video to provide students with instant access to legal information, delivered in English and six community languages. The app covers four issues most commonly encountered by international students – employment, housing, disputes with education providers and sexual assault. 

Enhancing international student experience

MyLegal Mate was devised by solicitor Sean Stimson, the head of Redfern Legal Centre’s International Student Service NSW, who in February was awarded the NSW Human Rights Medal for his work with the state’s 260,000 international students.

“Over 40% of international students will encounter a legal issue during their study in NSW, which may negatively impact their experience. Redfern Legal Centre provides a free statewide legal advice service for international students funded by Study NSW but this app will offer further immediate support at much larger scale” Mr Stimson said.

“While it is not intended to replace face to face legal consultation, this professional services app is an innovative way to ensure international students can get instant access to tailored legal information and be empowered to take greater control if problems occur. By downloading the app on enrolment, international students will be armed with information about their rights before they start their course, with the ultimate aim of preventing issues arising while they are in Australia.

Speaking at the annual welcome event for Sydney’s international students, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the app would further support overseas students.

“International students enhance our city by contributing to Sydney’s diversity and strengthening our global connections,” The Lord Mayor said.

This wonderful new app puts an invaluable legal resource in the pockets of international students. This will help ensure they’re given every opportunity to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding time living and studying in Sydney and across NSW.”

“Being able to attract and nurture the best students from around the world is an investment in our city’s future. That’s why we’ve supported this innovative information resource, and look forward to it helping students from all backgrounds.”

Building Future Skills Through Experiential Learning and Micro-Credentialing

The accelerating pace of technology-driven change is transforming the future of work faster than ever before.

Some 30 per cent of the jobs that today’s students are studying for are under threat from automation by 2030. The World Economic Forum claims that the gap between what people learn and the skills they need is widening, as traditional learning no longer equips students with the knowledge they need to thrive. Global employers like Google, Apple, PWC, IBM and Bank of America no longer require a college degree. Education thinkers like Jack Ma are calling for a revolution in what we teach and how we teach.

The growing value of experience

Experiential learning is a critical tool for higher education providers to meet this challenge. Experiential or work-integrated learning builds employability skills through professional placements, projects, accelerators, internships, mentoring and skills credentialing. These initiatives build trans-disciplinary skills including collaboration, creativity, leadership and resilience. They engage learners with real-world activities and challenges. Innovation in experiential learning is one of the keys to successful education in the 21st century. Employability and the development of globally relevant skills are very important to more than five million international students and to the institutions who serve them. Australian higher education providers have embraced strategic commitments to deliver this kind of education to every student. However there are challenges: these valuable experiences are often complex, and costly to manage, monitor and quality assure.

These challenges can be overcome with good instructional design, efficient management, and smart technology. In working with many universities, governments and employers in Australia and around the world, we at Practera have observed some common factors in successful experiential learning programs:

  • support for learners – to apply knowledge to new settings and complex problems
  • meaningful engagement – with experienced practitioners aligned with program learning outcomes
  • shared, valuable objectives and a common framework – for student, mentor and educator collaboration
  • facilitation of the critically reflective learning process – which is required for competency and character development
  • credentialing frameworks – which link learning and experience to global skills.

Australian state governments are supporting large-scale project networks, which enable thousands of international students every year from Australian higher education institutes to undertake real projects with Australian governments, businesses and community organisations. These projects lead to real outcomes, further work experience and jobs for international students. They may also result in government-endorsed digital certificates, which can be displayed on social media.

Designed on an even larger scale, the New South Wales Government – through Study NSW – recently initiated the Global Trade Accelerator platform built on Practera. This platform connects Australian exporters with international students to complete virtual market research projects on offshore markets. The accelerator platform is supported by Austrade, the Export Council of Australia and the Global Trade Professionals Alliance. Within two months of launching, the platform enabled 31 exporters to receive reports from 250 students from four universities, and achieved a satisfaction rating of 80 per cent from students and 75 per cent from employers.

Programs in Asia

In Asia, RMIT Vietnam has initiated Personal Edge, a global employability skills e-portfolio and microcredentialing program. All 6,000 students in Vietnam are engaged in Personal Edge employability skills sessions. They are encouraged to seek out experiences and record evidence of their experiential learning aligned to six skill categories, including ‘digital citizen’, ‘confident communicator,’ and ‘cross-cultural team leader’. Students’ reflections are reviewed by RMIT careers advisors and micro-credentialed with open badges on a social media-friendly skills transcripts.

Experiential learning creates opportunities for students. It gives them new employability options and helps them to keep learning new skills throughout their careers. Practera’s experiential learning and micro-credentialing platform enables students to access and document their activities and experiences. Through this, we help educators make experiential learning more engaging and accessible for millions of students around the world.

Authors: Suzy Watson, Beau Leese

This is an extract from “Innovation in Employability” report published by Austrade on 25.03.2019. The full report can be found here.

Student talent for business growth

With the University year commencing around the country, now is a great time to consider how engaging with students in 2019 could add value to your business.

With some 2 million students in some form of tertiary education in Australia, employers of any size have access to a diverse, skilled pooled of talent from Australia and around the world – hungry for real world experience to augment and enhance their study.

A vast range of University, Government and private sector programs are available for employers to engage with as students undertake projects, internships and placements as part of their educational program. Many of these are at no or low cost.

Study Gold Coast’s Talent for Business Growth works with local employers of all sizes to help identify business needs, connecting them with work integrated learning programs offered by local Universities. Gold Coast Airport (GCA), a subsidiary company of Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) is a partner that has joined the program to be recognised for their student engagement and encourage other businesses to leverage the student talent that is readily available on the Gold Coast.

Beau Tydd, QAL General Manager Technology & Innovation explained QALs commitment. “At QAL, we believe that our strong engagement with the university sector is a key to our community and social responsibility core value.  We are proud to be a major contributor and sponsor to industry led events, developing an innovative workforce placement program and undertaking industry leading proof of concepts projects.

QAL operates a 7 stage program engaging high school & tertiary students, graduates and its own employees. One of these programs is a project based internship, now in its second year. Students have worked on a diverse range of projects including engineering design modelling, marketing plans, financial analytics, compliance reviews and social media communications.

Internship students have helped QAL stay in touch with current trends, methods and approaches, bring fresh ideas, perspectives and energy and many have developed into committed employees.  100 % of our first internship cohort gained employment, and 33 % of those were with QAL / GCA itself.”

As one those students, Lauren was in the final stages of completing her double degree in Bachelor of Business / Psychological Science (Human Resources) at Griffith University. To finalise her study program, she commenced a part time internship with Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), where she worked alongside the HR team on numerous projects. Additionally, Lauren was also tasked with her own project which was to research best practice and review current Induction & onboarding programs. The first phase recommendations have been implemented, with the remaining suggestions continuing to inform the current redevelopment of these programs. At the end of her internship, Lauren was offered and accepted a position within the Gold Coast Airport (GCA) Assets team.

Over just the past 3 weeks, more than 1000 diverse, global, talented students from Cairns to Adelaide, from more than 20 Universities and other providers, have been busily working on projects for more than 100 large and small business, Government and community organisations in structured programs facilitated by our platform, Practera.

They’re working in Government or University programs to help busy managers tackle those value add projects that they haven’t quite got the time to do. Programs vary in commitment and intensity. Less experienced staff mentor the team to gain management experience. Programs vary in intensity and levels of input from all sides – from short virtual, online projects to full 12 week internships.

Rick Martin of Billabong Jerky participated in a 2 week, virtual program, the Global Trade Accelerator. Funded by the Study NSW Partner Projects program and supported by Austrade, Export Council of Australia and the Global Trade Professionals Alliance, international students are formed into virtual teams to tackle market research briefs.  Two teams of UNSW students examined two Asian markets to assess potential receptiveness for Rick’s products. Both reports exceeded his expectations.

“For our small company it does have real value, especially in the very initial investigations into a new market. The students obviously have access to some good databases and both reports turned up some interesting information we were not expecting. Following the information we received in both reports we will not be pursuing one market. The report saved us time and money investigating the market ourselves. Conversely the report on market 2 reinforced our perceptions so we will concentrate on this market. I would certainly recommend participation in the program for anyone looking for initial assessments of any export markets they might be considering. The reports definitely provided some good information to build our export investigation on. I hope the students received valuable practical experience sourcing, collating and presenting real data and information on real market research with real consequences for the recipient”.

Large corporates like Allianz, Bupa and Bank SA work systematically with teams of international students on multicultural & millennial marketing. Innovative startups and exporters like Accelo and Casella research offshore markets. EY provides early career staff to mentor in programs to gain cross-cultural management experience. The City of Sydney, Victoria Police and Redfern Legal Centre continually test and improve their multi-cultural outreach and community services. Regional international education committees have adapted and run the program locally in locations like Cairns and Newcastle. Importantly, students like Cindy from the University of Sydney, Lauren from Griffith and Sharon from Western Sydney University have won internships and jobs through the program.

As well as supporting this ecosystem, our company is one of the beneficiaries. Over the past two years, more than 200 interns and student project team members have helped build our successful edtech startup, and more than half of our staff, including our Chief Product Officer, have come through these programs. The experience helped many others go onto secure their first or next role and even turn into customers of ours.

From our experience, here’s our top five tips to success.

1. Plan it out

When most managers agree to take on students in say an internship, they sometimes don’t stop to think about what the intern will actually do. They’re brought in as filler or an outsourcing outlet for their staff.

The best way to avoid this is to take half an hour (yes, that’s all it will take)  and actually plan out both what you want the intern to do and — importantly — learn. This two way agreement can become the touchstone for the engagement.

The easiest way to manage this is to allocate the student to one project that they can work on with an existing team member for most of their placement. If your workplace isn’t project-based, the next best bet is to allocate the student to a team member as a mentor and manager to shadow in the workplace and set objectives for their contribution. Which, brings us to the next point.

2. Use student projects to train future managers

Chances are, your key managers will be too busy to take a student team under their wing. Fair enough.

More often than not, they don’t need to. Managing students on a project is actually an excellent task for future managers in your office, and can help you as a supervisor get a feel for whether or not they have management potential.

3. Promote feedback loops

The key to successful experiential learning — and benefit for both sides — is in the feedback loops.

The intern – like any employee, will learn faster and perform better if they’re asked to regularly reflect on what’s going well, what’s going less well and what is unclear, and given feedback.

Another benefit which seems obvious, but you would be surprised as to how many companies miss an opportunity to gather crucial, business-shaping feedback about their workplace from a fresh perspective.

An intern probably isn’t going to reshape your business model, but they can provide valuable, fresh insight into aspects of your business and culture.

Lead them towards giving you direct and candid feedback, reassure them that they won’t offend anyone with their views. Ask what they liked about the office culture? What did they really think about their manager?

It’s likely you will have to wade through a lot of inexperienced, mediocre answers. But one nugget could help you rethink how you approach culture, management structure and hiring at your company.

4. Follow the laws        

This one’s a no-brainer right? However unfortunately in many instances the rules aren’t even known by employers. Quickly swotting up on the Fair Work rules can both mean you stay within the rules, but also that you know what is permitted and can set up very workable programs.

For instance, you cannot work as an unpaid intern for more than two full-time weeks. That can be spread out: two day a week over five weeks for instance. But if you start relying on your intern and bringing them on longer, consider employing them with casual work so you stay within the law.

5. Do it systematically – repeat and learn

Like any other business function – if you do things in an ad hoc manner, you don’t get better and you won’t add sustainable value. Any organisation has simple projects and tasks that wouldn’t otherwise get done, and people who’d benefit from developing their management skills. Over time you’ll get more efficient and more practiced at delivering a positive experience for all.

Managed well, work integrated learning can be incredibly rewarding for both students and employers. It isn’t just ‘free work’, it’s a process that has the potential to build business value and net you fantastic new hires.

Beau Leese is CEO and Co-founder of Practera. He is Study Queensland’s Education innovator in residence and is speaking today at the Study Gold Coast Employability Summit.

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