It’s all about ‘I’: Implementing ‘integration’ into a WIL program
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In recent years concerns have been raised about a gap emerging between graduate attributes and what industry requires (Yap, 1997; Albrecht and Sack, 2000). This is often referred to as a lack of 'employment readiness' of students and the need to engage industry with students and the curriculum. Such a concern was highlighted in the 2007 report titled 'Graduate Employability Skills' prepared for the Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council. While work integrated learning attempts to address this issue, it is questionable how successful this is if students are not adequately prepared prior to their placement. In an attempt to address this concern a Professional Development Program (the 'PDP') was developed. The PDP is integrated into the degree program and is designed to systematically develop students' learning, employment and generic skills and supplements their theoretical studies. It is argued that this integration of the PDP permeating the Degree enhances students' employment readiness. In addition, the PDP created other tangential benefits to the students and the university in terms of student engagement and motivation. This paper details the procedures that have been developed, and provides preliminary evidence on the impact of the first part of the PDP. It will be argued by the authors that to attain the possible benefits of a WIL program it is critical that practices and support mechanisms are adopted to emphases the 'I - that is, the integration of work and learning.
Work Integrated Learning (WIL): Transforming Futures: Practice… Pedagogy…Partnerships