Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Work-based learning at higher education level has long been a feature of UK higher education. For example, the National Council for Technological Awards in the 1950s advocated that undergraduate engineering and technology programmes should incorporate planned periods of industrial placement. Since then, work-based learning has gone from strength to strength. There have been various studies since the late 1980s looking at the impact of work-based learning on students, revealing just how beneficial this learning method can be.
Work-related learning can help make students ready for, more effective in, and more valued in the workplace once graduated. It’s a practical way to earn while you learn that benefits employers as much as it benefits employees. There are now more work-based learning providers than ever, allowing candidates a better choice of course options – from one-year ‘sandwich’ courses and flexible short ‘block’ placements interspersed throughout the year, to online distance learning. Work-based students also benefit as it means that they can study while continuing with their work responsibilities, and for students in remote areas, the avoidance of having to spend considerable periods of time away from home.
The benefits of work-based learning programmes are wide-ranging. They allow you to:
Studies prove it
Recent studies of the relationship between work-based learning and subsequent graduate employment success, such as Bowes and Harvey’s The impact of sandwich education on the activities of graduates six months post-graduation (1999) and Mason et al’s How much does higher education enhance the employability of graduates? (2003), found that work-based learning graduates are advantaged in the labour market, especially in the early part of their careers.
In addition, employers were found to have highly positive views about graduates who have undertaken periods of work experience during their undergraduate programme. Work-based learning graduates are perceived as having acquired many of the skills essential for success at work including communication and interpersonal skills, in addition to acquiring attributes such as team-working and an awareness of workplace culture.
Benefits for employers
Our economy needs more people in the workforce with higher level skills – Gordon Brown, 2007
In the wake of the global economic crisis, UK employers across the board are seeking highly skilled employees. Graduates of work-based learning programmes are therefore highly valued by employers in a wide range of job sectors. Work-related learning degrees not only benefit the student, but the employer too. Work-based teaching methods mean that company employees’ performance and knowledge is improved without the company having to lose key management.
Working and learning have often been seen as two distinct and separate entities, with the learning to be completed before the working can start. In practice, we never stop learning and we learn a vast amount in the workplace. Increasingly, employers are recognising the value of skills acquired at work. For work-based learning graduates, this is great news in terms of earning power and career opportunities for the future.
The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.