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Work-integrated learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Drivers of innovation for students

Internationally, innovation represents the lifeblood of modern economies. In particular, there is growing recognition of the vital role of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educators in developing students’ innovation skills for the jobs of the future. Work-integrated learning (WIL) has emerged as an important pedagogical approach for developing innovation capabilities. This paper is based on a quantitative study that examines the key factors driving innovation in STEM WIL students. The study undertakes a comparative analysis of students by age, gender, degree type, and placement duration. It found that students participating in longer durations of 20 weeks compared to 12 weeks had higher perceived levels of innovation skills. The study shows how feedback on skills can be provided to students and employers, with output from the tool used in this study. Therefore, it has implications for student career literacy, industry outreach and WIL program development.