Work Integrated Learning or Work Placements
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is often an integral part of the learning journey for students while at university or other tertiary provider. It offers practical work-related activities related to your field of study. Its goal is to create opportunities to put your academic learning into ‘real world’ practice.
Different education providers may have different names for WIL depending on the context. It can also be known as work placements, clinical placements, practicums, industry projects, work simulations, or field placements.
Depending on what you are studying it may be something organised through your education provider, through industry partnerships for which you apply, or it may be something you organise yourself. WIL may either be an inherent requirement for your course, or it may be a co-curricular activity.
Benefits of WIL
Either way there are positive benefits to undertaking WIL including:
- meeting your course requirements
- meeting your acquired academic knowledge in a practical way
- improve your academic performance by increasing your motivation to succeed in your studies
- increase your self-confidence
- providing opportunities to explore a variety of job roles related to your studies
- improve your employability skills (Figure 1) and employment prospects
- producing work product you can include in your portfolio
- developing your professional identity
- creating and expanding your networks.
WIL can assist you to develop sought after skills that employers are looking for in their workforce.
Figure 1: Employability skills
Figure 1 shows a set of vital employability skills that industry is looking for. These include:
- digital literacy
- planning and decision-making
Adapted from MyFuture
Your education provider is responsible for ensuring that WIL partners provide reasonable adjustments for you and comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005. To ensure you are aware of your right to reasonable adjustments, post-secondary education providers should ensure that you are advised of these rights during orientation and at the commencement of each semester when WIL is undertaken.
If you meet essential entry requirements to a post-secondary education provider, you cannot be prevented from enrolling in a course because of your disability. However, it is important to seek out information about course requirements, including WIL, before enrolling in order to make realistic course choices.
Find out more about your rights on our Disability and Discrimination pages
Reasonable adjustments and disclosure
You are the expert on your disability, how it affects you and what will be helpful and/or unhelpful. It is your responsibility to articulate your needs and to communicate if you feel that a placement is inappropriate and not able to meet your needs and have reasonable adjustments provided. You are encouraged to seek advice from a disability practitioner who will work with you and liaise with staff such as the WIL placement officer to identify strategies to assist you in meeting course requirements, including WIL activities.
For information on disclosure visit Disclosure
For information on a range of reasonable adjustments visit Reasonable Adjustments: Disability Specific
It is your education provider's responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for you to undertake WIL activities. This includes ensuring that appropriate adjustments are arranged by WIL partners. Where it is not possible for you to participate in WIL activities because of disability or medical condition, the provider should endeavour to provide alternative experiences that will allow you to meet the learning outcomes of the unit or course.
If you feel you have been discriminated against in your WIL or placement activity review the information on Disability and Discrimination.
Types of WIL activities
These are the three most common types of WIL activities that students encounter as part of their course.
- Industry projects which require you (either as an individual or part of a team) to complete a project or develop a concept or product for a client. Popular in IT, engineering, architecture, creative industries and business and entrepreneurship degrees, industry projects are assessed as part of your coursework.
- Professional experience placements to demonstrate competencies related to professional standards. These placements are usually in settings such as hospitals, schools or industry locations with real client groups. These are common for careers such as health and human services, teaching, law, sciences and engineering. These placements are generally a mandatory requirement of your course in order to progress.
- Simulated and virtual experiences allow you to do work-related tasks in a mock work environment on campus. You may have a ‘virtual client’ or problem to address. You may undertake this experience as an individual or team to demonstrate project management and client liaison to product a tangible concept or product. Popular in sciences, IT, engineering, architecture, creative industries, health, law and government and business and entrepreneurship degrees, industry projects are assessed as part of your coursework.
What to expect at your WIL activity
Your education provider should flag WIL opportunities regularly so look out for information from your discipline area or talk to the WIL placement officer. Make sure you find out what the requirements are for WIL. Here are some helpful tips for before, during, and after your WIL activity.
- understanding the eligibility requirements of the WIL placement including any prerequisites, or academic/course requirements
- making an application to nominate preferences for organisations, locations and job roles
- do you need to seek out your own WIL activity or is it organised by the education provider
- completing safety and/or vaccination certification
- disclosing your disability and making reasonable adjustments (you might start a conversation with your Disability Services area)
- undertaking induction activities. This includes understanding the workplace you will be working in. So, you will need to understand information such as code of conduct, start and finish times, appropriate attire and key staff contacts
- purchasing safety equipment or uniforms
- working out transport or accommodation
- arranging existing activities such as part-time work schedule, childcare arrangements, personal care support
- are there options for a bursary or other financial support.
On your WIL placement
- getting to know key contacts, expectations, protocols relating to illness, emergency procedures, code of conduct, daily tasks etc
- assessment processes while on placement including familiarising yourself with the relevant facilitators or supervisors who will be assessing
- what to do if things go wrong e.g., unexpected illness, discrimination at work
After your WIL placement
- follow up with your WIL placement to thank them for their support and see if you can keep in contact e.g., following them on LinkedIn, future networking events or mentoring opportunities etc
- add any relevant work product or information on your experience to your resume and portfolio
- follow up with facilitators, assessors or supervisors once your WIL placement has been assessed where appropriate.
Other types of activities
There may be additional types of experiences that your education provider can provider as well such as overseas exchanges, internships and mentoring activities. This includes some external opportunities just for students with disability.
- Willing and Able Mentoring Program (WAM) is a work placement program which aims to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities and build the capacity of employers to integrate disability into the mainstream workplace
- Stepping Into (Australian Network on Disability - AND) internships This is a 4-week paid internship for students with disability/medical condition which is run during winter and summer breaks
- PACE Mentoring (AND) You can sign up for a mentor matched to your location, industry and goals
- WWDA LEAD Mentoring - Women With Disabilities Australia - WWDA) is a program for women, female identifying or non-binary person with disability looking to build leadership skills and connections