Work experience: connecting students with jobs through the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Program

TAFE Queensland Brisbane has always been dedicated to providing the right training to help you get the skills you need for the job you want. But we want to go one step further and help connect you with the right employment networks through internship placements.

17 Nov 2016

Getting work experience while you’re studying at TAFE puts you well ahead of the pack. Most of our courses offer a practical component on an increasing scale, meaning our graduates are more than just job-ready, they’re job capable. Find out more about the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Program which is planned to be rolled out across a range of Diploma courses from Semester 1 2017.

TAFE’s Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Program

TAFE Queensland Brisbane trialled a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Program where six Diploma of Business (BSB50215) students undertook work experience placements during Semester 2 2016. These students worked one day a week in small to medium businesses, where they were tasked with real project work.

This program is a TAFE Queensland Brisbane initiative and is the first of its kind in Queensland. TAFE Queensland Brisbane partnered with Microsoft and Regional Development Australia to form the Expressway Network, supporting business development for small to medium enterprise businesses in IT, health, advanced manufacturing, mining and business industries.

The beauty of the WIL Program is that students are working on real-life projects that the participating businesses will use and implement, meaning the students are exposed to real work situations where they are accountable for following projects through to completion. This work experience will be an impressive addition to any graduate CV, gearing them for better employment prospects.

work experience
Andres Casals Jahnsen

This internship program has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to be involved in a real work environment and to put into practice the concepts learned in the classroom. At EtherWorks, I have learned about the IT industry from the marketing perspective. They have been very supportive and gave me all the tools to work on the project. That made this internship an enjoyable experience. 

I totally recommend this program to other TAFE students because it gives you a unique skills set, network connections and relevant experience. All of that is a big plus when getting into the workforce or starting your own business.

TAFE Queensland Brisbane Diploma of Business student Andres Casals Jahnsen 

The response from employers has been very positive, with employers hoping to be involved in program roll-out. Jeff Florance of BlackFrog Solar gave fantastic feedback about the program. His team welcomed TAFE Queensland Brisbane student Rhys Stanley to the business and found it to be very rewarding. He hopes they will have an opportunity to be involved again with the program.

The driving force behind the program, Margaret Aspin, says that the program is specifically designed to provide TAFE Queensland Brisbane students with practical work experience in real workplaces, as opposed to simulated work environments, but still in a controlled and managed setting.

We’re really excited to be piloting the WIL Program and watching the success of it unfold through the semester.  We were overwhelmed with businesses wanting to support the initiative and pending its success, we aim to roll it out across the TAFE Queensland Brisbane training portfolio. The outward-facing relationships we have with our established industry networks have spoiled us for choice with placing our students.

Businesswoman and TAFE Queensland Brisbane WIL Program coordinator Margaret Aspin

Ms Aspin has also spoken about side-along benefits of the WIL Program as it opens up abundant networking opportunities for students within the fields of their choosing. Students have a chance to put their best feet forward with businesses who may offer them paid work post-program or will happily provide strong references that will strengthen job outcomes.

How important is work experience to students?

Will I be able to get a job?’ is a recurring theme of what concerns current and graduating students. The media adds to this concern with frequent reports of high statistics of students who are having trouble finding work, with The Conversation quoting only 68% of Bachelor graduates in full-time work four months after graduating, the lowest recorded rate since measurement began in 1982.

An enormous benefit of studying a Diploma at TAFE is that once a student has achieved their Diploma qualification, they can seek meaningful employment straight away, empowering them to commence their chosen career and gain valuable work experience, even if they choose to continue studying to earn a Bachelor qualification. Either way, TAFE students can generally make a smooth transition from student to full time employee.

As an education provider, TAFE wants to help students make those employment connections. Finding employment is a key motivator for students to engage study. And considering TAFE has strong business connections through our extensive history, why not bring the two together with a common goal of shaping the workforce of tomorrow through work experience?

What do employers look for in graduates?

Work experience is important when applying for a job – theoretical knowledge is essential but employers do scan CVs for relevant work experience as a way to verify that you can put your money where your mouth is. Often, employers have little else to go on so relevant work experience (paid or otherwise) offers them insights into your actual skills and if it’s unpaid, additional insights into your initiative.

Find out more about our business courses or find out more about how your business could benefit from the Expressway Network by calling 0417 550 387 or emailing Expressway.Brisbane@tafe.qld.edu.au.

If you are a student and are interested in the WIL program, email BusinessAccelerated.Brisbane@tafe.qld.edu.au.

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