There are no fewer than three dozen activities that can be grouped under the umbrella of work integrated learning (WIL). They range from mock interviews and role playing, to volunteering, temporary work, and one-day site visits.
For most students, however, WIL can be grouped under three main categories: Systematic training; structured work experiences; and institutional partnerships. A description of each follows.
Systematic training: Most learning is done in the workplace. This includes apprenticeships, which is a combination of in-school training for a skilled trade or occupation, and on-the-job workplace training
Structured work experience, where students become familiar with the world of work as part of a university or college program. This also includes:
- Co-op placements: Periods of study alternate with work placements, offering students a structured approach that integrates their studies with work experience in a related field.
- Internships: Work experiences, typically lasting a year or more, at or near the end of a study program.
- Mandatory professional practice: Work arrangements required for a professional license or designation.
- Field experience: Placements and work-related experiences that prepare students for professional or occupational fields, but are not required for a professional license.
Institutional partnerships are activities or programs offered by a university, college or polytechnic, designed to achieve specific industry or community goals. This includes:
- Applied research projects: Students taking on real-world projects, often with industry partners as clients and the students as service providers; and
- Service learning: A range of activities intended to provide equal benefit to the service provider (the student) and the recipient (the community) while maintaining a focus on learning.
In addition, two new types of work-integrated learning have emerged in recent years, based largely on the importance of innovation in the digital economy:
Incubators and accelerators: Intended primarily to promote entrepreneurship, but the scope of their services has expanded in recent years to include social initiatives. Qualified applicants may receive funding, supervision, and mentorship from experienced practitioners.
Bootcamps and hackathons: Popular venues for computer programmers and app designers to develop and showcase their skills.