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Developing graduate career readiness in Australia: Shifting from extra-curricular internships to work-integrated learning

There is broad acknowledgement that higher education should produce career-ready graduates and the role of practical experience – such as part-time employment, unregulated extra-curricular internships and work-integrated learning (WIL) – in achieving this. WIL is critical for developing the non-technical skills, disciplinary expertise and career self-management competencies required to prepare graduates for the world-of-work. Although Australia appears committed to growing WIL, many employers engage in extra-curricular internships while there is a lack of industry partners available to meet student demand for WIL. Extra-curricular internships may, therefore, be considered the ‘black market’ to WIL and could be constraining the achievement of targeted growth in Australia’s National Strategy for WIL . This paper highlights that extra-curricular internships may not be governed by the good practice principles critical to a quality work-based learning experience. It explores possible reasons for stakeholder preference for unregulated, extra-curricular internships and presents strategies to shift their engagement to WIL.