Original Research

Using Work Integrated Learning programmes as a strategy to broaden academic and workplace competencies

Patient Rambe
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a999 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.999 | © 2018 Patient Rambe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2017 | Published: 28 May 2018


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Abstract

Orientation: Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is often hailed for leveraging students’ swift and flexible adaptation to organisational work demands and accentuating the relevance of knowledge acquired in academic environments to work contexts. However, an inclusive view of WIL’s impact on students’ academic life, especially the broadening of their academic competences, is often occluded by a selective approach to WIL, which emphasises employers’ professional expectations and ignores the nature and process of competence development of students.

Research purpose: To bridge the research gap created by employer-centred approaches, this study explores particular South African University of Technology (UoT) ‘students’ perceptions’ on the influence of WIL programmes on the broadening of Office Management and Technology (OMT) competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills and abilities).

Motivation for the study: To promote an alternative approach to unravelling OMT competencies, which takes cognisance of the perceptions of students, who are the actual participants in WIL.

Research design, approach and method: The study drew on a quantitative case study of 94 OMT students from the UoT’s two campuses who had been successfully placed at 20 organisations in South Africa.

Main findings: The findings demonstrated that students’ participation in WIL enhanced their practical knowledge of space management, encouraged swift learning of work-based skills and abilities as well as facilitated the transfer of these competencies across a wide range of contexts, activities and tasks.

Practical and managerial implications: The strong correlation between course organisation and WIL’s enhancement of space management knowledge, skills and abilities implies that educators and employers need to place more emphasis not just on their delivery methods but also on the selection and organisation of content, which is critical to such delivery.

Recommendations: The study recommended the strengthening of the entire WIL conceptualisation and implementation process (i.e. content selection, content organisation, teaching modalities and computer-assisted delivery) and its delivery regime to ensure sustained improvement of student competencies.

Keywords

office management competencies; content delivery; content organisation; pedagogical delivery

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