Australia: Preparing the Workforce of the Future

Australia: Preparing the Workforce of the Future

Education is about more than knowledge, it’s about true job readiness. Work-integrated learning is a top priority for Australian universities as it is a win-win for both students and employers.

Our world has become more innovative and technologically advanced, creating new challenges and opportunities for workforce participation. These advancements are fundamentally changing the way that businesses create and capture value, and profoundly influence the skills mix required for current and future job roles. High-quality internships and work placements provide university students with the crucial workplace skills that are needed to help them land their first job after graduation.

Many of Australia’s universities partner with national and multinational companies and community organisations to offer diverse work preparation opportunities. This strong emphasis on workplace experience, starting from undergraduate education sets students apart and maximises their career readiness. University graduates need to be career-ready. This means they need to be flexible, adaptive and able to apply their technical skills to real-world situations.

In Australia, institutions are focused on preparing students for the global workforce. Both employers and educators are strengthening their links through work-integrated learning, which by definition, is the range of practical experiences designed to give students valuable exposure to work-related activities relevant to their course of study.

Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia has committed to work-integrated learning at scale. They are ensuring that every undergraduate course has a form of industry practice. Their programs are two-fold, providing employers the opportunity to see the skills and abilities of what graduates can bring to a workplace, whilst enriching the educational experience with industry engagement which ultimately improves their graduate employability outcomes.

Swinburne has long been at the forefront of industry engagement since their beginnings in 1908.

In the 1960s they were a pioneer of industry-based learning in Australia, and more than half a century later, they are still breaking new ground in industry co-design and co-creation of programs.

Swinburne understands that Education will need to be tailored to combine both solid technical skills and the soft skills of collaboration, creative thinking and communication in response to digitalisation and Industry 4.0 which is set to profoundly change the skills mix required as part of the workforce of the future. Although a work placement is the most common type of work-integrated learning activity, universities are moving beyond this historical approach, to offer opportunities such as projects, simulations and fieldwork.

At Swinburne industry engagement is at the forefront of their strategy, working on real-life problems and using innovative learning experiences to achieve real outcomes for the companies that partner with them. “Industry 4.0 offers industry significant advantages in productivity and competitiveness. Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 strategy leverages our capabilities across research, higher education as well as pathways and vocational education. Our research partnerships with industry provide deep insights into the skills needed for the workforce of the future. We have developed novel, tailored models for education and training in response to this”. Professor Bronwyn Fox, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

For over 50 years, Swinburne has been partnering with leading Australian and global organisations to offer students authentic workplace experiences. Industry representatives also shape their curriculum, providing guest presenters, team projects and six- to 12-month paid professional placements for students.

swinburne university campus australia

There are many different types of industry experiences available including:

Professional Purpose program

Swinburne’s Professional Purpose program runs alongside the bachelor’s degree and functions like a life and career planner. Its objective – to help students make the most of their university experiences and set themselves up for the sort of meaningful success others can only dream of.

Professional placements and internships

Students get a taste for their future career during a professional placement or internship with a leading employer in their area of study. Spend six or 12 months in paid full-time work on a placement or 12 weeks (at one to two days per week) on an internship. Swinburne’s professional placements see their students working on real industry projects with leading employers in their field.

Professional degrees

Professional degrees include a compulsory, paid full-time 12-month work placement, usually undertaken in the third year, before their final year of classes. They’re available to students who have just completed an Australian Year 12 program in the year prior and they offer invaluable skills attractive to future employers. Look for degrees with (Professional) in the title.

Accreditation placements

Accreditation placements are embedded in many degrees that teach very specific skills. Depending on a student’s course, these placements may be paid or offer credit. Students graduate knowing that they have the experience they need to become professionally accredited for their chosen career.

Industry-linked projects

Working with industry partners on real-life projects, industry and community projects enable students to take on authentic briefs and challenges related to their future career. All projects are team-based and guided by industry professionals. Challenges could include research projects, concept development or internal briefs. All projects are taken as a unit of study and run for one or two semesters.

Overseas study tours

Overseas study tours offer students the chance to travel to new countries, experience different cultures and learn outside of the classroom. These tours occur over Summer and Winter breaks and are led by experienced Swinburne academics.

Student consultancies

Led by industry professionals and senior academics, Swinburne’s on-campus consultancies are always on the lookout for student consultants. Take briefs from industry clients and present real solutions. Check out Swinburne’s Design Bureau.

Swinburne partners with organisations – both domestically and internationally – in a multitude of ways to ensure that the industry experiences offered to students are dynamic, meaningful and opportune. Committed to preparing graduates for a new world of work, graduate capabilities include not only technical and human skills required, but also an overlay of digital skills that are a signature to Swinburne’s education programs.

Find out more, visit:

swinburne university banner
Click to find out more