Driving institutional engagement in WIL: Enhancing graduate employability

Sonia Ferns, Linda Lilly

Abstract


Authentic learning experiences that replicate workplace settings are essential elements of the student experience for optimising graduate employability outcomes. Work Integrated Learning (WIL) supports the development of generic attributes which are highly regarded by employers through embedding authentic learning experiences in curricular and co-curricular programs. The regulatory and standards-based environment which monitors and controls higher education institutions' operations is increasingly focussing on WIL and the employability capabilities of graduates. In addition, external stakeholders such as employers and community agencies expect that graduates are prepared for a global and uncertain job market. The ultimate aim is to build a competitive and sustainable Australian economy through ensuring a highly-skilled population. Higher education is considered a key mechanism for achieving this ambition. Reconceptualising curriculum development and assessment strategies is required in order to address these societal demands.

Embedding the development of employability capabilities in curriculum to ensure work-ready graduates is a priority for Curtin University as it aspires to provide authentic learning experiences where students apply theoretical concepts in real-world settings. Scaffolding skill development across curriculum is fundamental to quality curriculum design. Flexible industry and community partnerships are integral to implementing a practice-based curriculum, enabling the development of professional practice to be an integral component of the degree program. This paper presents a three-year Strategic Project, which aimed to enrich the student experience through establishing an institutional framework for WIL, as a case study to inform further WIL initiatives. It outlines strategies implemented to achieve the strategic goals, to introduce innovative approaches for establishing an institutional framework, and to enhance the student experience through WIL.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2015vol6no1art577

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