Welcome to the Industry WIL Guide

This is a short orientation to WIL to help industry and employers understand the broad term of work-integrated learning (WIL) and how to make the most of WIL.

The Industry WIL Guide has the following headings:

  • what is WIL,
  • why should I get involved,
  • how to offer a WIL experience,
  • how to prepare for the WIL experience, and then more specifically
  • what is involved in placement WIL.

There is a section with links to more resources and a simple WIL checklist so you can make sure you have covered the most important steps in WIL.

What is Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)?

Work-integrated Learning (WIL) is a broad term to describe a collaboration between you (the employer) and the university to engage students in a work-related learning experience as a part of their study.

This collaboration is used to prepare students for the world of work and provide them with opportunities:

  • to socialise into professional roles;
  • develop professional capabilities;
  • grow their professional network;
  • strengthen employability;
  • develop professional identity and professional values.

WIL is a part of the students’ degree which makes it different from work experience, but it has a range of forms. Examples include:

  • work placement, where the student comes to your workplace and participates in your day to day activities;
  • industry project, where the student operates from the university or comes to your workplace to work on a project, or works on a project online that you have provided;
  • group work, where a small group or a full class of students work together on a project or scenario provided by you;
  • virtual placement, where students work online on projects.

Why should I get involved in WIL?

WIL provides employers with a range of benefits that make it worthwhile:

  • accessing fresh perspectives and skills for your workplace;
  • increasing productivity;
  • establishing or deepening connections with the university;
  • helping to educate the future workforce;
  • enhancing the supervisory and mentoring skills of your staff;
  • enriching your work environment;
  • recruiting for your workplace.

How much does WIL cost?

When considering the cost of WIL there are three key components: monetary expense, resources and time. The cost will vary depending on the type of WIL experience and the length of time you have the student.

Do I have to pay WIL students?

Although it is not a requirement to pay students for vocational placements under the Fair Work Act 2009, it is often recommended that WIL students are paid for their efforts. If you aren’t sure the award rates are available via the Fair Work Ombudsman website: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/awards/list-of-awards. The Fair Work Act 2009 outlines requirements for vocational placements – https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/unpaid-work/student-placements

In some cases, WIL experiences are unpaid. In this instance there are very clear guidelines in the Fair Work Act about when it is legal for a placement to remain unpaid. The University will be able to guide you about what is expected but the Fair Work Ombudsman site provides a clear summary here: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/unpaid-work/unpaid-work.

How do I select a student/ WIL experience that is right for my organisation?

University staff are experienced in providing assistance to employers in finding the right student(s) or WIL experience. To help with this process they will often ask you to prepare a position or project description. They may even have a template to assist with this process. Here are some things you might like to include:

  • information about your organisation;
  • overview of project(s) / position(s);
  • expected deliverables / tasks;
  • skills required.

How to offer a WIL experience

To get started think about:

  • what tasks/ projects you are looking to have completed;
  • how long it might take;
  • what skills and knowledge you might need; and
  • what resources you might require e.g. time available to talk with a class, a detailed project description, a desk, computer, other equipment.

This information will help when you make contact with the universities. The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) has developed a WIL contact list of universities across Australia: https://acen.edu.au/wil-contacts-in-universities/

When you make contact with the university, here are some questions that you might like to ask:

  • Do you have students that could help with my project/ tasks?
  • What is expected from me as the employer/host organisation?
  • What WIL format is best for my needs?
  • How long does the WIL experience take?
  • What support is provided by the university?
  • What can I expect from the student/s?
  • If it is a placement does the university provide insurance for the student while they are in the workplace?

How to prepare for the WIL experience

To help ensure a smooth beginning – make sure that you, the students and the university reach a shared understanding of the purpose of the experience. This will ensure that there is no confusion or unmet expectations. Please note that as WIL is for University credit students will be expected to undertake assessment tasks and other academic components to successfully complete their experience.

WIL Agreement

To help to clarify expectations the university provides an agreement template which outlines the responsibilities of each party and addresses essential areas of insurance and Intellectual Property rights. These are often unique to each university and each type of WIL. You can find example agreements on the ACEN website: https://acen.edu.au/resources/guide-to-legal-agreements-for-domestic-placements/

Legal requirements

As with any form of employment WIL falls under the Fair Work Act 2009 and as such there are legal requirements that, as an employer, you will be required to adhere to.

Some additional preparatory tasks that help with getting the most from your WIL experience include:

  • identifying appropriate experiences, tasks, projects tailored to students (if this has not already been determined);
  • identifying professional development opportunities and resources required;
  • managing administrative tasks such as:
    • Contacting the university liaison person and establish communication strategies
    • Establishing review points/ meetings to help ensure your desired outcomes are being met.

 

 

Placement WIL

Here are some tips on what to do before students arrive in your workplace:

  • organise the supervision/workload and communicate with your work team;
  • organise payment to students – if it is a paid placement;
  • set up computer logon/ access;
  • make contact with the students to provide relevant starting information e.g. starting date and time, security access details and parking arrangements.

For more detailed information in preparing for supervising students in your workplace you can access the following resources which have been designed for new WIL supervisors: The Workplace Learning: Get Engaged!: http://acen.edu.au/resources/support-for-supervisors/ and Preparing Students for WIL: http://acen.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Industry-Engagement-Preparation-WIL.pdf

On day 1

Often the best place to start with the students is with an induction or introduction to your company/workplace to cover the key information to set them up to succeed. Some things you might cover in your onsite induction or offsite introduction, include:

Induction

  • Introduction to workplace supervisor and team members
  • WH&S and fire exits
  • Dress code and work hours
  • Location of desk and other relevant amenities
  • Computer access
  • Location of relevant resources
  • Identified preferred communication and reporting methods
  • Any policies, such as social media and privacy, to protect everybody’s reputational risk

Introduction

  • Your organisation
  • Your availability
  • Location of relevant resources
  • Identified preferred communication and reporting methods

After WIL has started

Once students have started, some key things that help with making the experience a positive one are to:

  • promote a learning environment by encouraging students to ask questions, offer their own ideas and come to you or their lecturer with their problems / issues;
  • encourage students to find their own answers before coming to you;
  • ask students to reflect on successes and failures to understand why this was the outcome;
  • model the behaviour you expect of the student;
  • provide students with the “bigger picture” so that they can understand where their work fits within your organisation;
  • where possible provide students a sense of ownership over the work they are doing e.g. offering discrete projects
  • remain patient and understanding as this may be the students’ first experience with work related activities
  • offer regular feedback and encouragement when they are doing well;
  • have set regular meetings / check ins with the students or university;
  • check for understanding with the student by asking them to explain back to you what you would like them to do.

Handy hint: If you have a student on placement it also helps if your team supports the student in the same way. Source: https://www.murdoch.edu.au/Work-Integrated-Learning/_document/Misc/How_to_make_the_most_of_WIL_WORKPLACE_version.pdf and Workplace Learning: Get Engaged

What do I do if there is an issue?

Occasionally there can be issues during the WIL experience. These can range from health or behaviour related issues to cultural and organisational issues. With any challenge the most important thing to remember is communication. Often issues can be resolved or prevented from escalating by having a conversation with the student or with your university contact. If you are unsure of how to proceed it is often helpful to speak with the university contact as they have measures and strategies in place to address any issues that arise during WIL.

Do I have to assess the students?

The academic component of the WIL experience is generally marked by the university although there are some professional bodies that require input from you, as the employer, in order for the student to gain accreditation. Your role in assessing the student will depend on the WIL experience. Some require more than others, but your feedback is highly valued by the students and is an important part of the learning process. Often the university will provide you with guidance and a template to complete but you can always approach the university to ask for further advice if you have any questions or concerns. This resource may also assist you with providing feedback: http://acen.edu.au/resources/industry-engagement-feedback/

What next?

After the WIL experience it is a good idea to provide the universities with feedback on your experience. This can help universities in continuing to improve the WIL experience for you and future students. It also has the added benefit of helping you to establish a strong connection with the university and accessing further opportunities to collaborate. For more information on engaging with the university through WIL check out http://acen.edu.au/resources/industry-engagement-managing-relationships/

Key documents

If you would like any more information here are some helpful resources about WIL that the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) have collated for employers:

  1. ACEN Industry Resources: http://acen.edu.au/resource-type/industry-resources/
  2. Higher Education and Employment in Australian: The Impact if Internships: https://production-ribit.s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/documents/Ribit-Research-Higher-Education-Australia.pdf
  3. National WIL strategy: https://wplgetengaged.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/national-wil-strategy-in-university-education-032015.pdf
  4. Workers’ Rights and Restrictions: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/work-rights-and-exploitation
  5. Workplace Health and Safety Act 2001: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2011A00137
  6. Fair Work Ombudsman List of Awards:https://www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/awards/list-of-awards.
  7. Fair Work Ombudsman Unpaid Work:https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/unpaid-work/unpaid-work
  8. How to make the most of Work Integrated Learning: for Workplace Supervisors: https://www.murdoch.edu.au/Work-Integrated-Learning/_document/Misc/How_to_make_the_most_of_WIL_WORKPLACE_version.pdf
  9. Uni Students – Good News for your Business: http://cdn.aigroup.com.au/Workforce_Development/FactSheets/Employer_guide_UniStudents.pdf
  10. Developing strategies to maximise industry contribution and engagement with the WIL experience: http://acen.edu.au/wil-impact/industry-engagement/

 

WIL Checklist for Industry

Before your WIL student starts

Identify appropriate experiences, tasks, projects tailored to students if this has not already been determined
Identify professional development opportunities and resources required and find out how the university can help and provide support and advice
Manage administrative tasks such as:
Organising Supervision/workload and communicate with your work team
Organising payment to students If it is a paid placement –
Contacting the university liaison person and establish communication strategies
Setting up Computer logon/ access
Make contact with the student to provide relevant starting information e.g. starting date and time, security access details and parking arrangements

 Onsite WIL induction

Introduction to supervisor and team members
Work Place Health and Safety procedures
Location of Fire exits
Dress Code
Work hours
Location of desk and other relevant amenities
Location of relevant resources
Identify preferred communication and reporting methods
Computer access and login
 Any policies, such as social media and privacy, to protect everybody’s reputational risk

 Offsite WIL introduction

Introduction to you and your organisation
Your availability
Location of relevant resources
Identify preferred communication and reporting methods

 Supervising a WIL student

Promote learning environment by encouraging students to ask questions, offer their own ideas and come to you or their lecturer with their problems / issues.
Encourage students to find their own answers before coming to you.
Ask students to reflect on successes and failures to foster professional evaluative judgment skills
Model the behaviour you expect of the student.
Provide students with the “bigger picture” so that they can understand where their work fits within your organisation
Remain patient and understanding as this may be the students’ first experience with work related activities.
Where possible provide students a sense of ownership over the work they are doing e.g. offering discrete projects
Offer regular feedback and encouragement when they are doing well.
Have set regular meetings / check ins with the students or the university.
Check for understanding with the student by asking them to explain back to you what you would like them to do.
 If it is placement encourage your team to support the student in the same way.

 After the WIL experience

Provide your student with final feedback.
Provide your university contact with feedback about your experience.
Ask the university and student for feedback
Arrange for your next WIL student to start!
Photo by Alain Pham on Unsplash