Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester.

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Contact: Gabrielle Shield, University of Canberra, gabrielle.shield@canberra.edu.au

The Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester, thereby providing an authentic workplace experience. The program is a 12 credit point full time paid internship, where PwC has matched the student training and projects to the learning outcomes of the academic internship unit.

Students are coached and developed by senior PwC staff while working on real client projects. They receive valuable training, networking and feedback throughout the program. The IBL program is offered to students studying technology or business-related degrees. Being paid to participate helps to ensure the program is more accessible and inclusive to students.

Full details of 'University of Canberra (UC) and PwC Industry Based Learning Program (IBL)'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

STEM and Business

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement

Brief description of WIL activity

The Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester, thereby providing an authentic workplace experience. The program is a 12 credit point full time paid internship, where PwC has matched the student training and projects to the learning outcomes of the academic internship unit. Students are coached and developed by senior PwC staff while working on real client projects. They receive valuable training, networking and feedback throughout the program. The IBL program is offered to students studying technology or business-related degrees. Being paid to participate helps to ensure the program is more accessible and inclusive to students.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

One year – Semester 2, 2017 and Semester 1, 2018 (completed).

Currently recruiting for students to complete the program in Semester 2, 2018 and Semester 1, 2019.

Who benefits from the WIL activity?

UC is focused on producing industry-ready graduates and we know that when students engage with industry throughout their studies, everyone benefits. Students benefit from being immersed in a workplace with the opportunity to apply theories and concepts from the classroom, as well as developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their professions. The program sets students up for potential graduate roles and equips them with the skills and experience to market themselves to other employers. PwC benefit from the students’ fresh approach and innovation, plus the opportunity to build relationships with UC and identify potential graduate talent. Placement opportunities are negotiated in consultation with all stakeholders to help ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The IBL program was developed following discussions between UC and PwC Canberra about how to increase the number of UC students engaging with PwC, particularly from technology focused degrees. Following discussions with faculty about the range of WIL options available in curriculum, PwC developed the IBL program specifically to match the WIL requirement. For example, the ‘learning agreement’ was developed through consultation with faculty and contains a customised competency matrix, which overlays the PwC skills framework with the learning outcomes of the internship unit. This document is used by PwC coaches and supervisors for induction, goal setting and ongoing feedback. The learning agreement also contributes to final assessment for the unit.  Ultimately, the IBL program promotes shared outcomes and responsibility from the university and PwC; paving the way for future collaboration and proving that a shared interest in the delivery of education to students can be achieved.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

This program is completely adaptable to other disciplines if there are relevant internship units to facilitate a whole semester program. PwC’s business areas lend themselves to the current disciplines of Technology and Business/Commerce but could grow depending on business needs.  The first year of this program was open to IT students, with the 2018 program opening to Business, Commerce and IT related degrees. The university already works with several other technology industry partners on a similar model of placement, under a scholarship arrangement. We welcome other industry partners interested in developing a similar placement model.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

This is a sustainable activity, as it runs through the normal university systems and processes. UC’s degrees have a common professional practice element, allowing integration of future programs such as the PwC IBL program to be implemented easily.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

Each semester, the program is evaluated by:

  • Students through their regular unit feedback structures.
  • The outcomes of the students completing the program. To date 75% of the pilot students receiving graduate offers (PwC or other).
  • PwC provide individual student evaluation (linked to curricula)
  • Meetings with Careers UC to evaluate and review the program for further improvement. Eg: refined application processes, communication with students, assessment submission requirements and enhancement of employability skills.
  • The expansion of this program into a third PwC business line within 12 months is evidence of success. Since this program has been implemented, a range of similar paid experiential learning programs have been developed at the university (Government, private sector employers).

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

For students – this type of work experience has a high value in the employment market and students who do not take up a role with PwC can leverage the experience to apply for a range of graduate jobs.

For PwC – creating a positive and prominent profile with both students and faculty. Building a talent pipeline in key disciplines and potential to expand into other faculties. Building relationships with faculty and contributing to curriculum review and related activities.

For UC – developing a WIL program which showcases the university’s ability to be agile and responsive to employers and students. PwC attend, and have keynoted, the end of semester unit showcase to share in the celebration of student learning and to engage with the faculty. This model of engagement builds trust, opens communication channels and generates more opportunities for further engagement, include research and WIL.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

Students are prepared both at UC and PwC. Students meet with academic supervisors, undertake preparation modules, including Pre-Place and undertake a thorough one-week face to face induction with PwC. The induction includes E-Learning sessions, buddy and coach introductory sessions, PwC systems training, networking, group activities and reflection. Implementation is carried out in collaboration with PwC, the faculty and Careers UC. Careers UC meets with students to assist with applications and process.  Once successful, they ensure students are aware of the University requirements and assist in career planning. Reflection is embedded into assessment criteria, including reports and presentation requirements. Students also have the benefit of coaches at PwC, which is formalised through the learning framework, where there are guidelines for feedback, reflection and achieving personal development goals throughout the program.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The learning outcomes of the program have been developed in consultation with PwC to align with university learning outcomes, PwC core consulting skills and industry technical skills. Several specific learning outcomes are set by UC, including students demonstrating the ability to communicate, professionally engage, critically reflect and develop new skills in the workplace. The learning outcomes overlap the university’s graduate attributes, which are categorised as graduating students who are professional, global citizens and lifelong learners. UC’s graduate attributes are strongly linked to employability skills and the success of the first program highlighted the connection to these skills. Work Experience, employability skills, networking, communication, real world application and putting their theory into practice was all recognised by the students (see video), and something that will enable them to be successful into the future.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

The PwC IBL program is an ongoing WIL program available for UC students in the Business faculty and Scitech faculty. The aim is to increase the number of students undertaking the program over the coming semesters and raising students’ awareness of such opportunities early on in their degree. Opportunities are presenting themselves to embed similar programs into other disciplines and industries, and is proving useful to businesses to attract talent outside of traditional graduate recruitment.  Additional 6/12cpt programs are underway with other organisations, cementing this type of structure at UC as a permanent feature of our degrees.

Prof Lawrence Pratchett, Pro Vice-Chancellor/Associate Vice-President (Students, Partnerships and International) and Iain McGuire, Partner, PwC with University of Canberra IBL students, Manuel, Lauren, Emily and Madison.

Prof Lawrence Pratchett, Pro Vice-Chancellor/Associate Vice-President (Students, Partnerships and International) and Iain McGuire, Partner, PwC with University of Canberra IBL students, Manuel, Lauren, Emily and Madison.

IBL students are fully immersed into the PwC workplace, developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their profession.

IBL students are fully immersed into the PwC workplace, developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their profession.