Shaping the WIL Vision Creating and sustaining WIL relationships Fostering WIL engagement Communicating and influencing Driving organisational outcomes WIL Context

The WIL Leadership Framework

WIL Leadership Vignette 07:

Integrating industry experience throughout a construction management program



Mary Hardie
University of Western Sydney

What was learned from this:

  • In a practice-based discipline like construction management WIL can be part of the student experience from day one of their studies
  • Maintaining connections with industry, especially through our graduates, is critical to finding useful employment places for undergraduates

Context of the event, experience or activity:

The construction management undergraduate program at UWS is one of the largest in Australia with approximately 1000 students. The construction industry puts great value on a work history of practical site-based experience. UWS students come from very diverse backgrounds and some have already worked in industry before they commenced their study. Some students have formal cadetships but many are involved in casual and contract work in the industry when it becomes available. Integrating the demands of work scheduling with compulsory classes at university is increasingly problematic for many students. Flexible delivery, evening classes and problem-based learning projects where students get to demonstrate their practice-oriented knowledge are very important in this discipline area.

Description of the event, experience or activity:

Construction management students at UWS need to complete 1200 hours of industry experience before they graduate. Their WIL is expected to fall into a variety of specific categories which can include: building design; on-site construction; commercial management; estimating and tendering; project management; and materials handling. While students largely find their own positions with employers, assistance is available to those who have difficulty in this area. A list of industry employer contacts is maintained based on the work experience evidence provided by completing students. Graduates from the program and major construction companies often contact academic staff with requests to advertise job vacancies among the students. We facilitate this through our intranet site which is accessible to all enrolled students. Networking among students at various stages in the program is encouraged. The Young Builder’s Alliance provides social activities and site visits that assist students to make contact with industry representatives.


Many disciplines have mandatory tertiary education standards that must be achieved before employment. Construction management is not like this. To become a construction project manager you need to convince an employer that you have the capacity to do the job. Tertiary qualifications are helpful but they are not essential. Graduates from the UWS program have very high employment levels at graduation and industry accrediting panels have reported that UWS students are noted for being particularly job ready.

Mary Hardie is the unit coordinator for Industry Based Learning in the construction management program at UWS.





Last Update: 23 April, 2014
Reference: Page 21