Preparing students for the future of work
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Preparing students for the future of work

Preparing students for the future of work

The future of work is uncertain. Technologies like robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are shaping just about every aspect of our lives, from how we live to how we work. In these rapidly evolving times, those who fail to innovate or upskill risk falling behind.

Rapid technological advancements make the automation of jobs in the future a valid concern. That’s why it’s important, now more than ever, for the current and future workforce to be equipped with the necessary skills and experience to thrive in this unprecedented era. A report from the National Academies of Sciences notes: “The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labour market.”

In a similar vein, universities must keep abreast of the changing times and equip students with the right skills to excel in the future job market. One of the ways universities can produce agile graduates is through ‘Work Integrated Learning’ (WIL), which challenges students to put theory into practice and help graduates flex their skills and ease their transition into the future workforce.

For students, these opportunities don’t only serve as valuable work experience, but can also boost CVs and enhance graduate employability. So, for prospective students seeking a university that will prepare them for the future workplace, here are four worth considering:

THE EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG (EdUHK)


EdUHK proudly nurtures outstanding and caring educators and professionals with its holistic learning framework that promotes students’ whole personal development. This includes incorporating multidisciplinary programmes, delivering quality courses and innovative curricula as well as built-in field experiences and internship opportunities.

Stellar curricula aside, the university also introduces non-formal learning components to support students’ personal and professional development. To better equip students to become caring global citizens, its Student Affairs Office runs various global exposure  programmes that aim to nurture their multicultural competency and dynamic leadership skills.

For example, its Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme sees students participating in workcamps in developing countries, while its iAmbassador Programme promotes internationalisation and cultural integration. There are also cultural tours to countries such as Finland, Japan and the US to widen students’ horizons.

For prospective language teachers at EdUHK, its academic faculties and departments supplement classroom learning with a language immersion programme, which enhances students’ English or Putonghua proficiency to ensure their future teaching success.

The university’s prowess in producing highly skilled and employable graduates is cemented by the results of its latest Graduate Employment Survey, which shows 99 percent of graduates from the Bachelor of Education programmes were employed or had chosen to further their studies within three months of graduation. Their average monthly salary registered a year-on-year increase of 7.1 percent.

LA TROBE UNIVERSITY


This public university in Melbourne, Australia, opened its doors in 1967 and has since built itself an international reputation. It stands among the worlds’ top 350 universities, based on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2019.

Most of La Trobe’s degrees provide students with an opportunity to complete WIL to help them hone their skills. This can be in the form of an internship, clinical placement or a subject that embeds students in a workplace setting.

For example, La Trobe’s WIL or Industry Based Learning (IBL) acts as an optional practical learning opportunity that enables students to apply what they’ve learnt within the workplace. Benefits of completing a WIL include building your network, improving your employability through work experience and learning more about your future career.

There are also elective placements that enable students to explore La Trobe’s elective opportunities to gain work-relevant experience for credit with the university’s industry and community partners.

As a testament to the university’s prowess, La Trobe ranks well for employability, coming 14th in Australia and 4th in Victoria (and in the top 300 universities globally) in the 2018/2019 QS Graduate Employability Rankings. The university also enjoys a healthy employment rate; La Trobe ranks 9th in Australia and 129th in the world for the number of graduates in full or part-time employment within 12 months of graduation.

AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY (AUT)


Nestled in Auckland, New Zealand, AUT produces work-ready graduates. With global industry partnerships 5,000-strong and alumni who live and work in 80 countries, this comes as no surprise.

At AUT, learning isn’t confined to the classroom. The Kiwi university offers WIL for all students, which involves a partnership between the student, industry and university to create collaborative learning opportunities through the exchange of ideas, practices and experiences.

The WIL model serves as an integration of knowledge gained in the university with knowledge accessed or constructed through workplace experience, notes the website. This cooperative education and other forms of WIL as part of a degree programme have been shown to develop capabilities that enhance the employability of graduates.

WIL is the final part of a students’ degree, regardless of their major, and takes a full semester. This supervised work placement is related to a students’ major(s), for an organisation of their choice, which can ensure students leave work-ready upon graduation.

Meanwhile, AUT has been steadily climbing the rankings. THE World University Rankings 2019 ranks AUT among the worlds’ top 350 universities, while in the Asia-Pacific University Ranking 2019, AUT is ranked as number 51. The university also has over 250 bachelor’s, graduate diplomas, master’s, MBAs and PhDs to choose from across a range of fields, setting students up for successful careers around the world.

CURTIN UNIVERSITY


Despite only being founded in 1987, this leading Australian university has developed a global reputation for its education and research excellence. Curtin is ranked in the top one percent of universities worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 and has campuses across the globe, including in Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

The institution offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including double degrees for students looking to specialise in two areas of study.

WIL has been integrated into all Curtin courses to ensure graduates have the skills and practical experience demanded by industries. This is done through Curtin’s professional, community and government partnerships, enabling students to contribute to the workplace while also strengthening their skills, expanding their industry knowledge and increasing their employability.

Curtin offers fieldwork education, a form of WIL, designed to provide real-world experience to better prepare students for professional work after graduation. Fieldwork activities can include units or courses that require a work placement or workplace activities; participation in laboratories; as well as study tours, field trips/camps, among others.

THE ranks Curtin in the 301–350th band in the World University Rankings 2019.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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