Work Integrated Learning provides opportunities for students to complete real-world work experiences that support both academic outcomes and boost their employment prospects. Participation in Work Integrated Learning benefits students, educators and employers by building networks and enhancing outcomes for all those involved.
What Is Work Integrated Learning and Why Is It Becoming So Popular?
Work Integrated Learning (often known simply as WIL) powers learning by doing. It grants students an opportunity to participate in a real-world experience within their chosen field which can directly contribute to their degree or course of study. WIL activities integrate academic learning with practical workplace application, giving students the chance to both apply their discipline-specific knowledge and solve real issues they will encounter in their field.
Work Integrated Learning creates opportunities for impactful and effective education by extending learning beyond the walls of a lecture theatre or seminar room. WIL can take several forms, including work-based projects, internships, clinical placements, work simulations and mentoring programs.
WIL is becoming increasingly popular as evidence for its benefits continues to grow. Subsequently, universities and educational providers are becoming increasingly required to ensure that students are workforce ready upon graduation.
Companies today are seeking graduates who not only have the knowledge needed to do their jobs, but key 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, creativity, and the ability to collaborate, manage diversity and ambiguity. These are not skills that can be easily taught in a classroom, they can only be acquired through authentic learning experiences.
Practera’s experiential learning platform effortlessly links students with real-world work experiences, at scale. We deliver work-integrated learning across a wide range of categories, including internships, team projects, mentoring, work simulations and more. Our award-winning, impactful and engaging programs are intentionally designed for successful online delivery. Our programs use integrated assessment, feedback, and performance tracking which are backed by research and intended to facilitate top-quality online program delivery. This enables the ongoing delivery of industry-leading experiential learning programs, regardless of restrictions related to COVID-19.
Whether you’re providing programs on-site or online, our user-friendly, innovative platform fosters quality learning and helps students gain real-world employability skills that prepare them for their careers and future work.
Learn more about the benefits of WIL and experiential learning in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper
How Does WIL Benefit Students?
For many students, higher education involves gaining the necessary skills to be ready for future work placements. However, the jobs available today require more than just theoretical or discipline-specific knowledge. Graduates need a diverse skill set, ready to apply their knowledge to any new context. This type of experiential program provides effective learning opportunities in which students are able to apply their theoretical knowledge in a real, professional work situation and also develop vital skills like leadership and collaboration. By participating in WIL programs, students can boost their employment prospects, be introduced to a network of peers and helpful industry contacts, and better support their transition from study to career.
Research has indicated that well-planned and managed WIL experiences help students to:
- Enhance their academic knowledge and develop transferable skills,
- Participate in teamwork, problem-solving, and self-management,
- Learn to communicate effectively with colleagues across diverse roles,
- Develop an understanding of ethical practice,
- Build a professional identity, and
- Increase their digital literacy skills.
Further benefits include supporting students to develop an awareness of workplace culture, enhancing their understanding of the global environment and industry issues, and developing a greater awareness of the job market. By participating in WIL experiences, students also begin to define their thinking about future career choices and aspirations.
What Students Say About Their Learning Experiences Through Practera
Students who participated in Practera’s WIL programs often said that the experience they gained through the program is valuable and helps develop in-demand skills they need to secure a job in the workforce, especially in unprecedented environments and challenges.
One student in the UNSW Business Accelerator program 2020 said “that the program is a good first step into consulting. Post-pandemic virtual work and study would be a reality and this experience will be a great experience for coordination and collaboration.”
Practera’s WIL program allows students from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines to come together and produce a top-notch report.
A student from UTS Business Accelerator program in 2020 said “The program allows me to collaborate with students from different faculties. It is a rare and precious experience being able to connect with people studying in completely different aspects. Also, this experience provides a good insight into working in a business consulting team”
What Are the Benefits of WIL to Educators?
The benefits of Work Integrated Learning also extend to educators. Research has shown that when universities take a highly intentional approach to WIL, including quality educational programs and the formation of strong reciprocal industry partnerships, it can be a powerful tool for realising university goals and enhancing professional education.
For higher education providers, being able to offer high quality WIL programs can differentiate your institution from your competitors and help you attract and retain students. It aids graduate employability, helps to deliver a positive return on investment and cements an institution’s reputation as a desirable education provider. WIL has the additional ability to boost your professional networks and reputation through the building of relationships with government, community and industry partners.
For educators, incorporating WIL into your suite of pedagogical strategies can lead to enhanced student engagement and boost your job satisfaction.
At Practera, we partner with higher education providers throughout Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe. We can assist your university to provide exceptional WIL experiences aligned to your curriculum that concurrently increase scale and reduce delivery costs.
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What Educators Say About Enhancing Their Curriculum with Practera’s Digital Industry Placements?
Brigette McKenna, UNSW Program Manager Career Accelerator, (AGSM & UNSW Business School) and her team are long standing partners of Practera. However, when the pandemic proves to be a challenge in delivering a quality authentic industry experience at a large scale, Practera has been a key tool in UNSW’s armoury in these unprecedented times.
“COVID-19 has obviously been an enormous challenge to navigate for everyone, in all walks of life. While we did a fantastic job adapting our programs in a short time span, we know the impacts and budget cuts.”
“The Practera nano projects have proven to be a key tool in our armoury. They have held up very well under new variables of stress and transnational delivery.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the need for strong digital literacy and communication skills in everyone and it reinforced our theory that undertaking projects truly prepares our students for the workforce in the future.”
Noami Hewston, King’s Internship Adviser at King’s College London and her team wanted to look for an effective virtual work-integrated learning opportunity that would grow their students’ employability skills, provide workplace insights and engage students with the industry.
“So wonderful to see how the King’s Insights Programme and our partnership with Practera is helping to empower students with real work expertise and enabling industry clients to benefit from the brilliant minds of our students. Running the programme on Practera has been really easy and impactful for students & clients alike.”
How Does a Business Benefit From Participating in A WIL program?
Employers can also reap significant benefits from participating in a WILL program, as it gives them the opportunity to save money on strategic market research, while simultaneously mentoring students in preparing for the future of work.
For employers, other benefits for participating in a WIL experiences include:
- Uncover the latest insights from student teams from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
- Build mutually beneficial networks with industry, government, community partners and training organisations
- Give back to the student team by sharing professional experience and advice
For employers, partnering with Practera can help to develop your team’s skill sets, capability and enhance workplace culture, while working with Practera gives you access to student project teams, provides opportunities to meet and attract key graduate talent and establishes helpful university and community networks.
What Employers Say About the Digital Industry Program and the related work integrated learning benefits
Doreen Brown, the CEO of Let’s Get Visible is in the business of creating custom SEO strategies. Majority of her time, she is looking after her clients and crafting their messaging. One of the pressing challenges for her business is setting aside time to promote her business as a whole. “I am a consultant and a lot of my day is spent looking after the clients and their businesses. When it comes to my own business, it can be tough as I focus my time and efforts looking after other people and making sure they are carrying out my tasks for them.”
When she participated in the USYD Global Scope program, it allowed her student team to look at the business critically as a whole.
“It was a pretty good thing to have external eyes looking at your business and getting your external perspective – sometimes you are too close to the business that you don’t have a critical POV and you are thinking that everything is fine but from the outside looking in, it could give you that constructive feedback!”
Clipper Ship, City of Adelaide is a not for profit organisation that dedicates in the preservation of running Australia’s oldest Clipper ship as a tourist attraction. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director, Peter Alexander faced a revenue, customer loss, which was definitely a challenge for his organisation. Not until he applied for where they put together a comprehensive report that gives him a fresh perspective.
“One recommendation was changing the demographic of our attraction from retirees/seniors and aim our attraction towards young people. An important insight that the student identified is tapping into university student volunteer databases and marketing the Clipper Ship attraction in student social meetings.”
“Practera programs are a great way to open our eyes to other options and opportunities. Working with students to examine our operations in a different light, it allows us to pick up on issues that we didn’t pick up. I am always amazed about how students can produce some top quality.”
Want to Offer WIL? Speak To Practera
A Work Integrated Learning experience requires much more than simply providing students with a placement at a workplace. For WIL to be most effective for students, educators and employers, it needs to fulfil several criteria including flexibility, accessibility and intentional support. Research has indicated that a quality WIL experience should be flexible enough to meet the quickly changing needs of contemporary workplaces and schedules. They should ideally occur in both online and offline environments, allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous connection.
A WIL experience should be accessible to all students, not just to those students who are either academically gifted or socially advantaged. In addition, WIL should be tailored to students’ goals and theory requirements, providing a deeper, more meaningful experience
For education institutions such as universities, WIL needs to intentionally foster learning outcomes, enhance their educational mission and increase their overall capability and employability. It should develop and facilitate reciprocal partnerships with industry, for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Quality WIL is powered by real, quality relationships between educational providers and industry. In order to maintain these relationships, WIL needs to be well-organised, supervised and resourced.
Achieving impactful WIL programs might sound like a lot to achieve if you don’t have the right support in place. However, with Practera’s help, implementing a successful experiential learning program is much more simple to accomplish. Our world’s leading experiential learning platform, managed services and talented team allow educators to easily partner with industry and government to offer students high-quality Work Integrated Learning programs. By connecting with our team, we can help find a program best suited to your needs and connect students with global organisations. Expect continuous support with a dedicated program manager and make the most out of Work Integrated Learning with our team and platform.