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Underperforming adults? The paradox of skills development in Canada

This report provides an account of the first large-scale scoping study of work integrated learning (WIL) in contemporary Australian higher education. The explicit aim of the project was to identify issues and map a broad and growing picture of WIL across Australia and to identify ways of improving the student learning experience in relation to WIL. The project was undertaken in response to high levels of interest in WIL, which is seen by universities both as a valid pedagogy and as a means to respond to demands by employers for work-ready graduates, and demands by students for employable knowledge and skills. Over a period of eight months of rapid data collection, 35 universities and almost 600 participants contributed to the project. Participants consistently reported the positive benefits of WIL and provided evidence of commitment and innovative practice in relation to enhancing student learning experiences. Participants provided evidence of strong partnerships between stakeholders and highlighted the importance of these relationships in facilitating effective learning outcomes for students. They also identified a range of issues and challenges that face the sector in growing WIL opportunities; these issues and challenges will shape the quality of WIL experiences. While the majority of comments focused on issues involved in ensuring quality placements, it was recognised that placements are just one way to ensure the integration of work with learning. Also, the WIL experience is highly contextualised and impacted by the expectations of students, employers, the professions, the university and government policy.