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Work ready engineering graduates through WIL processes
conference contributionposted on 11.05.2022, 03:22 by Nirmal MandalNirmal Mandal, Francis Edwards, Mohammad RasulMohammad Rasul
CONTEXT: Work Integrated Learning (WIL) requires an engagement approach that incorporates workplace partners, universities and students. Effective collaboration between students, universities and workplaces provides an enhanced engagement experience and enables students’ to graduate with work-ready skills. CQU’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Diploma of Professional Practice (Co-op) students participate in two 6-month WIL placements over the course of their university studies. As part of practice assessment, industry partners provide an evaluation of our students’ performance against the Engineers Australia (EA) Stage 1 Competency Standard for Professional Engineers. PURPOSE OR GOAL: A WIL student engagement framework was developed and adopted. This paper investigates the effectiveness of the WIL program to make CQU graduates work ready as compared to the Quality Indicators for Learning & Teaching (QILT)national survey data. APPROACH OR METHODOLOGY/METHODS: A CQU formatted template of student capability against the Engineers Australia (EA) Stage 1 Competency Standard for Professional Engineers is sent to the employers to assess our graduates. These data sets indicate that the level our graduating students work abilities are at the national average or higher on a 5 Likert scale where 3.0/5.0 is the average level. On the other hand, the work readiness capabilities of current CQU engineering students and new graduates are then compared against the QILT national survey data to identify the graduates’ standings on various descriptors such as overall student reaction, their skill development, rated teaching practices positively, interaction with staff and students, facilities and resources, positive support services, skill developments, starting salary etc. ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES The student assessment data from 2012-2019 indicated that the EA competency standard trend for CQU students was consistently above the average (3.0/5.0 on the Likert scale) of a graduate engineer. The QILT data suggest that, in some of the descriptors, the performance of CQU students and new graduates is comparable to that of the national standard. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY: The CQU WIL program students are consistently evaluated as work-ready, as they are rated above the average performance expected for a graduate engineer. They perform better than the average in some areas. Overall, CQU engineering graduates are work-ready compared to the national standard managed by the QILT. In order to further assess the impact of WIL-based programs on graduate outcomes, we suggest that more specific post-graduate surveys could further establish a causal link between WIL education, employer assessments, and graduate outcomes.