by the Australian Collaborative Education Network Board

Australian universities are exploring new ways to enhance graduate employability. With the introduction of the National Priorities Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF) in 2020, under the Job-ready Graduates Package, every Australian institution is required to focus on a metric and case study related to work-integrated learning (WIL). This government initiative provides an opportunity for universities to experiment, grow and showcase good WIL practice.

In recent years, innovative models of WIL have emerged, expanding on project-based, consultative and entrepreneurial contexts. New models have flexed traditional working relationships with industry partners, highlighting value for small-to-medium enterprises and embracing WIL-related experiences that do not require the learner to physically relocate. Indeed, COVID-19 restrictions perpetuated creativity for virtual models of work and WIL, many of which have proved to be sustainable, demonstrating the adaptability of WIL practice. The uptake of WIL online has also carved space for a range of new third party providers in virtual WIL, such as Pagoda, Forage, Practera and others, offering large-scale experiential and career development learning.

Although the move to on-line and alternative modes of WIL in 2020 was sporadic, research has shown the emergence of non-placement WIL modes. A recent study of almost 80,000 graduates highlights that non-workplace-based models of WIL have a significant, positive impact on graduates’ perceived employability and career readiness. This highlights the need for endorsement from relevant accreditation bodies for non-placement modes of WIL to sustain this practice.

One of the challenges of designing WIL programs that benefit all learners is understanding what leads to successful WIL outcomes. The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) seeks to support universities to showcase their good WIL practices. Particularly, ACEN Case Studies illustrate a range of WIL models across disciplines and modes, highlighting WIL innovation and quality across Australia. All member institutions are invited to submit their Case Studies.

Let us learn from one another, discover new ideas and progress the employability of all Australian graduates. Case Studies, which are featured on the ACEN website, are automatically nominated for the Excellence and Innovation Award which is announced at the ACEN Conference.



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