An exploration of work, learning, and work-integrated learning in Canada using the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults
Work-integrated learning (WIL) combines traditional post-secondary education (PSE) with exposure to real-world work experience, often with the goal of better preparing graduates for entry into the workforce and smoothing the transition from student to employee (or becoming self-employed). WIL encompasses a broad range of activities which integrate a student’s academic studies within a workplace setting – this includes co-operative (co-op) programs, work placements, internships, and field work. This study examines the relationship between work, learning, and work-integrated learning for the 2012 Canadian population that graduated between 2012 and 2016 using new data from the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults (LISA). Rather than focusing exclusively on traditional WIL (e.g. co-operative education and work placements), which is covered extensively in current literature, the LISA considers the broader interaction between work and learning, asking a variety of questions about graduates’ work acquired both through their academic program and independent from it. This research contributes to the Canadian literature on WIL by exploiting a new data source and examining the broader nexus between work, learning, and WIL in Canada that extends beyond traditional streams of work-integrated learning. While most graduates from a post-secondary institution had a job at some point during their post-secondary education – about half of all graduates had a job related to their field of study – most of these jobs were informal WIL. That is, they did not form part of a graduate’s program of study. Nonetheless, the majority of graduates with a job related to their field of study reported that this job was useful for obtaining their first career job. Those graduates that had a job related to their field of study were also 14 percentage points more likely to find full-time work within three months of graduating, compared to those that had a job that was unrelated to their field of study, suggesting positive labour market outcomes associated with integrating work and schooling.