Engaging Employers in Work Integrated Learning: Current State and Future Priorities

This report funded by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency examines the benefits, barriers and enablers to employers providing work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for university students.

Phillips KPA surveyed 4500 Australian businesses to investigate: the extent that employers participate in WIL; industries or professions in which WIL is common; the benefits, barriers and enablers to employers undertaking WIL; and the extent to which employers value WIL experiences.

Analysis of responses from 190 complete and 74 partially completed surveys showed:

  • The term WIL is not well-recognised. Internships are the most popular form of WIL and are more popular with smaller businesses
  • The most apparent benefits for organisations participating in WIL, are to give back to the industry or profession and the ability to recruit graduates in the future
  • Larger businesses and businesses that were in operation for a longer period of time are more likely to participate in WIL. 20 years or 15 employees is the estimated ‘foundation point’ from where WIL participation becomes more likely
  • Most businesses rely on universities or students initiating WIL, but once initially engaged they generally continue offering it
  • Administrative and Support Services, Construction, Financial and Insurance Services, and Professional and Technical Services appear to have room for growth in WIL placements numbers
  • Smaller businesses that didn’t participate in WIL were largely willing to participate, but resources and time are major barriers. Some also had concerns for the quality of the experience they could offer
  • Most barriers to WIL identified in the survey failed to receive widespread agreement. Monetary concerns/budget constraints surprisingly saw respondents divided
  • Barriers tend to dissipate over time as organisations develop an economy of scale or learning curve
  • There was greater support for the enablers (or supports) to participation in WIL, suggesting that facilitation may be as, or more, important than removing the barriers

These findings contribute to the much needed evidence base on barriers to WIL.

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Engaging Employers in Work Integrated Learning: Current State and Future Priorities