The challenges and benefits associated with the implementation work integrated learning in human resource management graduates
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Work Integrated Learning is a programme that can be adopted by Universities. This programme is useful in the sense that students get an opportunity to put theory into practice. In so doing, students are able to gain skills and competencies that are applicable in their disciplines. But also, the Higher Education Institution Environment is one that is filled with competition and therefore Higher Education Institutes have to come up with strategies to enhance their reputation. Such a reputation can be boosted by the number of graduates that get meaningful employment. So graduate employability is important for both the Higher Education Institute and also the student, for student, there has to be a return on investment of education and that occurs when they get employed. Work Integrated Learning is not an easy programme to implement and therefore the aim of the project was to determine the challenges as well as the benefits of implementing Work Integrated Learning in human Resource Management Graduates. Also the aim was on how the participant view and define Work Integrated Learning. METHOD: A qualitative research approach was followed for this study; interviews were used to get data from five participants, three of which were employed by a Higher Education Institution in a South African University and also vested in human resource management discipline and also work integrated learning, one participant is currently a director of Cooperative learning at a Polytechnic. The last participant was a conference on academia meets business whereby Work Integrated learning was the theme. RESULTS: The results show that there are benefits as well as there are also challenges to the implementation of Work Integrated Learning. They show as follows: • Benefits can be broken down to those that benefit the students, the Higher learning Institute as well as the employer. • Benefits to the student include but not limited to: getting employability skills and become employable, able to plan their careers effectively, being able to use theory in practical situations as well as job creation. • Benefits to the Higher Education Institute or the University: once Work Integrated Learning is put in place, the curriculum in able to be up to date and in line with industry needs, there are also chances that industry can put some donations or resources to the Institution through investments. • Benefits to the employers or the industry: the employers are able to train the student to whatever they want them to be looking at the industry as well as their goals, there is also a decrease in cost because they eliminate recruitment and selection which can cost lots of money in the organisation, they are also able to make for effective succession planning for the business. • There a are also challenges associated with the implementation of Work Integrated learning and they include: the difficulty in turning theory into practice, Work Integrated Learning not being documented properly, mentorships, lack of resources, competencies of academics, the lack of cooperation between all the stakeholders that have to be present especially The Higher Education Institute and the Industry/employers, curriculum development and the issue that curricula ion is not acted on time, and the fact that Work Integrated Learning can be costly to the industry. • In the quest of defining Work Integrated Learning, the conclusion that can be drawn is in simple terms, it has to do with the integration of theory into practice. PRACTICE RELEVANCE: Work Integrated Learning is a tool that universities can use, but when it comes to human resource management, there is still a lot that has to be done in some universities. Work Integrated Learning is already being used in other disciplines as well as Tecknikons, but for universities offering human resource management, more has to be done. As noted, this can only start operating once Business and universities come together. The South African Society for Cooperative education has suggested that Work Integrated Learning should become one of the visions of Higher Learning Institutions.