"Real World Placement Program"
The Real World Placement Program is a 2013 initiative led by QUT’s Careers and Employment team. The program is designed as an option from the numerous suite of programs to support QUT students’ career development through structured learning with the added opportunity to undertake carefully selected and facilitated placements in both corporate and not for profit organisations.
Students enhance their career-related learning through workshops, one-to-one facilitator meetings and supported interaction with industry professionals. Work experience placement opportunities are screened to ensure they are in appropriately supported learning-focussed environments, and volunteering placements are used to build both confidence and employability skills. A service-based ethos is encouraged in volunteering placements and is supported by a Service Learning program.
Benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
Students benefit from the RWPP through a learning program that sets them up for success in their placements. This learning program incorporates compulsory attendance at skill development workshops and opportunities for individualised advice based on the student’s individual skill development needs. Students are assured of a placement that has been assessed for suitability to their study and career goals, and that the host organisation is focussed on providing a learning opportunity as well as valuable experience in the workplace. RWPP staff support the student on placement and encourage reflective career learning throughout and upon completion.
Students benefit from exposure to future employers, networking with industry professionals as well as a real-world experience in a supported environment. Contribution to community is encouraged, and the value of volunteering as a social commitment is emphasised.
Graduate employers benefit from the RWPP by having a single point of access to QUT students and through an ongoing relationship with RWPP facilitators. “Host Organisations” are motivated to be a part of the program because of its ability to connect them with prepared students, the desire to further develop talent in their industry and the opportunity to form a strong connection with QUT. The RWPP adds value to these interactions by raising the profile of an organisation and its opportunities to a cohort of students that are engaged and ready to interact with the real world. Host organisations strongly appreciate the ongoing support from facilitators during the course of placements.
QUT has benefitted from the RWPP by having a centralised coordination point for all co-curricular placement opportunities providing ease of contact for both industry and students looking to connect. The RWPP is also the centralised point of contact for WIL placement opportunities and the team works closely with course coordinators across faculties to support and promote WIL opportunities to industry and students. The program has designed a standard placement agreement that is used for all co-curricular placements and provides due diligence by assessing all placement opportunities for Fair Work Act compliance.
QUT’s reputation as a developer of emerging talent is bolstered through the career development learning that students undertake before commencing placements.
Benefit to NAGCAS
The Real World Placement Program benefits the NAGCAS organisation, its members and the career development industry by providing a best practice model to guide other parties.
The model is designed to strengthen linkages between Universities and graduate employers by focusing on career development opportunities for students in a Real World setting. The program aims to enhance the employability skills of emerging talent, of which the benefit will filter through to graduate employers.
In an environment where adherence to the Fair Work Act and ambiguity with interpretations of the Act regarding what is or is not compliant the model has clearly defined guidelines regarding duty of care in this area. All placement opportunities and potential host organisations are carefully screened before being accepted into the program and are monitored throughout. All placements are focused on learning opportunities for students and each student must attend a compulsory preparation session before being eligible to be placed. In addition to optional one on one placement planning appointments and placement focused workshops as part of the program. Students identified as requiring additional support are also referred to other Careers and Employment services. Having the program structured in such a way has been very well received by industry with almost 400 new placements being undertaken through 2013.. Host organisations report the structured and supported approach gives them more confidence in taking on students in the co-curricular space with regard to FWA concerns.
This model is mutually beneficial through on going facilitation, preparing students for placement opportunities and ongoing support to both students and host organisations, while developing long term partnerships with industry and structured compliance requirements.
The Real World Placement program is innovative in its structure and set up.
Being focused on co-curricular learning has enabled a model to be developed that goes beyond the traditional placement program where students are simply placed with an organisation in the hopes that students will thrive. The model focuses learning before students are placed and helps them to explore career development in a practical setting and encourages reflection and practical application of learning post placement.
The structure of the program is also innovative with regard to the Fair Work Act. Many Universities have stopped all co-curricular placements for fear of FWA compliance. The Real World Placement Program is confident in its interpretation of the Act and is openly inviting the FWA Ombudsman to review the program and will work closely to develop a best practice model that will ensure these crucial learning opportunities are still able to be undertaken by students.