The contribution of different types of work-integrated learning to graduate employability

Publication Name

Higher Education Research and Development


Work-integrated learning (WIL) is widely recognised as significantly contributing to enhancing graduate employability. Empirical evaluation of its impact and value is often confined to work-based WIL (internships/placements/practicums), known to pose challenges with scalability and equitable access. Through the lens of experiential learning, this large-scale study draws on national graduate survey data (n = 76,261) to investigate the impact of three different types of WIL (work-based/non-workplace/global) on perceptions of employability and skill outcomes across undergraduate and postgraduate (coursework and research) programmes and disciplines. Findings support the widely evidenced link between work-based WIL and perceived improvements in skills (foundation/adaptive/collaborative) yet show greater gains from WIL not based in the workplace, particularly for collaborative skills and among postgraduates. Further, global WIL appears to provide an important opportunity for developing highly sought-after adaptive skills in new graduates. In contrast, work-based WIL was particularly effective in enhancing graduates’ perceptions of overall preparedness for employment, although varying by discipline. Findings therefore demonstrate the value of embedding and scaffolding various forms of WIL throughout study programmes to support perceived employability.

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