PERCEPTIONS ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF WORK-INTEGRATED LEARNING: A CASE STUDY OF A SELECTED HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Durban University of Technology (SOUTH AFRICA)
This paper looks at the effectiveness of Work-Integrated Learning. The objective of this research was to determine the perceptions of B-Tech degree students regarding the effectiveness of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) programme in contributing to the employability of Office Management and Technology graduates. The national debate on graduate employment has moved from the narrow focus on a set of essential core skills within the undergraduate curriculum. Work-integrated learning (WIL) programs are becoming popular with students, government, employers, and universities. A major benefit of a WIL program is the increased employability of students, and this matches well with the present trend whereby students expect a pay-off from their investment in education. Various initiatives have been introduced to prepare students for graduate jobs rather than for any job. This includes developing critical, reflective abilities, skills for self-career management and the maintenance of employability and career progression. For OMT students, employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitudes they possess, the way they use those assets and present them to employers and the context within which they work. The most effective initiative which enhances employment of OMT graduates is the effective and efficient Work Integrated Learning (WIL) they undergo when they do their third year. The Department ensures the placement of all students which grants jobs to more than 70% of the students. The training these students receive so far equips them with the necessary abilities to function as intelligent citizens who can be self-employed and self-reliant. The skills they acquire enable them to contribute to the productivity and development of the organisations they work for. Many graduates are affected by an increasing rate of unemployment but this is not the case for OMT graduates. Most universities has recently strengthened their commitment to WIL through adding WIL to their strategic directions and re-shaping areas of the university to better manage and support WIL provision.
A questionnaire measuring the students’ perceptions of their experiential training and mentorship was developed and administered to 70 students currently undertaking the B-Tech Degree study in Office Management and Technology. Convenience sampling method was used for this study.
The findings confirmed that importance of increasing the time allocated for the training as it will enable students to gain more administrative and office technology skills to enhance their employability. Finally, it was recommended that the departmental lecturer should conduct regular visits to industries where students are placed to ensure that the required training is provided to students and to monitor students’ progress.