This Position Paper explores some of the assumptions that underpin the dependence on physical WIL placements. The authors focus on the fundamental question of what exactly we are preparing students for – is it the workplace, or should we think more broadly about preparing students for the workforce? This raises other questions around the necessity of students undertaking placements in a physical workplace to learn what they need, as well as analysing what aspects of work trigger learning. Workplaces in many organisations are quite different to those of a decade ago, requiring different skills of their workers, and for some, there is no single physical workplace at all. Preparing students for this new paradigm requires us to rethink what kind of WIL experience will be most efficacious and potentially opens space for consideration of other options such as virtual WIL, project-based WIL, studio learning, and student designed start-ups. It is hoped that our thoughts and recommendations might challenge how academics and practitioners currently think about and deliver WIL, with a view to advancing new approaches to non-placement WIL.
Recommended CitationWinchester-Seeto, Theresa and Piggott, Leanne, ‘'Workplace’ or Workforce: What Are We Preparing Students For?, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 17(4), 2020.