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University and business bodies targeting graduate employability

Australia’s future university graduates are set to benefit from a new strategy being brought to life by the country’s university and business leaders.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce Industry (ACCI) and Australian Industry Group have teamed up with Universities Australia to develop a National Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Strategy, which is said to give university graduates a better chance of landing the career of their choice.

“The strategy provides the opportunity for industry to play a practical role in giving students the skills and experience they need to match employer expectations,” Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Ms Belinda Robinson, said in a statement.

“These invaluable ‘hands-on’ experiences help put a student’s education in context and make a real difference to the skills and capacity they can bring to the workplace.”

Activities are to include internships, work placements, practical research projects and practicums, all of which aim to provide graduating students with relevant experience to put toward their university credits.

While WIL is currently integrated in many sectors, this is to be the first overarching national strategy to ensure it is established nationwide – in emerging industries.

“Over the years, and even the centuries, we have seen the benefit of practical experience in teaching, medicine, nursing and engineering. But there are fewer opportunities in degrees in arts, economics, marketing, science and maths,” Jenny Lambert, ACCI Director of Employment, Education and Training, said.

“Graduates from these disciplines are valuable to the economy but often find it difficult to secure positions due to a lack of professional experience in the workplace. WIL is beneficial at all qualification levels, from undergraduate degrees to PhDs.”

Ms Lambert said Australia is “weak by global standards” when it comes to collaboration between universities and business and said improving the link would place the country on a path to becoming more competitive and innovative.

Ms Robinson echoed the idea.

“Given the global environment, Australia must leverage our strengths, diversify, develop and compete. It’s a challenge, but an exciting one. The Strategy is both strategic and practical. It draws on a strong evidence base and the many excellent examples that already exist.”