Equity and inclusion in work-integrated learning: participation and outcomes for diverse student groups
Universities support students in their transition to work and future career through programmes such as work-integrated learning (WIL). WIL engages students in authentic industry-based experiences and is considered valuable for preparedness for work, including professional socialisation and developing skills prioritised by graduate employers. Research shows, however, that access and participation in WIL is not equal among all student groups. This paper reports on the responses of over 151,000 recent graduates in an Australian-wide survey. It investigates participation in different types of WIL and its influence on self-perceptions of employability and the employment outcomes of graduates from different backgrounds. Findings show how access to diverse forms of WIL is not uniform, urging universities to carefully consider barriers and challenges for different student cohorts. Those that do access WIL largely experience significant positive outcomes, highlighting WIL’s instrumental role in preparing students for future work. The paper highlights the need for tailored approaches to WIL that enable access and optimise outcomes for all students to best prepare them for career pathways.
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