More than 73,000 students lose out on workplace learning during lockdown

The workplace based learning (WBL) programmes was hardest hit as it requires students to be placed in actual established organisations.
The workplace based learning (WBL) programmes was hardest hit as it requires students to be placed in actual established organisations.
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More than 73,000 students in the work integrated learning (WIL) programmes were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as many suitable employers had closed or been compelled to reduce their workforce.

This was announced by Universities SA after a study was conducted to determine the impact the pandemic had on WIL. 

WIL is a compulsory and essential component of many higher education qualifications. 

Analysis was done on 13 of the 26 public universities and it emerged that a total of 73,159 were enrolled for work integrated learning and 24,055 were in their final year.

The study indicates that of the five most dominant modalities of WIL, the workplace based learning (WBL) programmes was hardest hit as it requires students to be placed in actual established organisations.

"At the end of the hard level 5 lockdown, many suitable employers were either closed or had been compelled to reduce their workforce which meant fewer employers and fewer WBL opportunities were available and less time was afforded than programmes required. Lockdown restrictions reduced a number of employees, staff and students who could be at work premises at any given time. This compromised the mentoring, supervision and assessment which was meant to be afforded to students placed at these programmes," read the report.

The findings of the study led to the formulations of guidelines with recommendations for universities support. 

Dr Henri Jacobs, the director of work integrated learning and industry liaison at Central University of Technology, said to address the challenge of time lost to WBL, post level 5 lockdown, a recommendation was made for universities to review their credit allocation in relation to the notional hours associated with each modality.

"These recommendations are to be applied temporarily while the nation battles with the pandemic. In drawing these recommendations, the team strove to ensure that the quality of WIL is not compromised," he said. 

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