HARD WORK: Steven Voss is on his first placement for his civil engineering degree, working at Aecom.
HARD WORK: Steven Voss is on his first placement for his civil engineering degree, working at Aecom. Trinette Stevens Roktwork

Uni students to get more work experience

STEVEN Voss is one of the lucky students whose degree of choice incorporates units of integrated work experience.

Steven is a third-year civil engineering student at CQUniversity and completing a placement at engineering firm Aecom.

The engineering co-op degree at CQUniversity includes 12 months of paid work experience.

"I love placement. It makes you realise that what you're being taught at uni is important and helps you apply that to the job," Steven said.

It is valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that Universities Australia wants to offer to all students to ensure they leave the tertiary education sector "work-ready".

UA, in conjunction with various business leaders, released their first national strategy yesterday to push for greater work-integrated learning across the board.

Work-integrated learning is already a major component of most engineering, teaching and nursing degrees, but the strategy aims to incorporate it in a wider range of courses.

CQU's Associate Dean of Engineering and Technology, Ian Devenish, said students who received the opportunity to work in placement opportunities had an edge over other graduates.

"The incorporation of work-integrated learning into educational programs, particularly through structured work placements, significantly strengthens graduates' capabilities to perform to and even exceed employer expectations," he said.

Within the UA report, it was cited that the push for placement work during degrees came not only from potential employers, but also students.

"Unsurprisingly, student demand for work-integrated learning is high, as many recognise the opportunity it provides to develop, apply and contextualise what they are learning - give life to theory and reinforce teaching practice," the report said. "Graduates identify WIL as having positive impact in making the transition to work and their competitiveness in the labour market, often identifying the practical experience they gained through WIL as crucial to getting a job."