The 21st century posits specific challenges for university graduates. These challenges include non-linearity between study and work; gap between current real-life work and what is being taught in higher education curriculum; expectations of multiple career changes; and everchanging labour market (Johnston, 2017). While relevant skills have been embedded into university curriculum to ensure graduates are ready to tackle the above challenges, many graduates do not yet know how to transfer skills from classroom to workplaces. Not all graduates are transferring skills and knowledge “automatically or tacitly” (Johnston, 2017, p. 23), instead they need practice to do so.
In response to this situation, universities need to as much as possible make the required skills and knowledge explicit to their students. A lot of this is done through job market preparation programs, including work-integrated learning (WIL). In Australian context, universities place WIL in the centre of their initiatives with the aim of preparing students to become work-ready graduates. Amongst various forms of WIL, such as “fieldwork, industry-based learning, sandwich years, cooperative education, and internships” (Keele et al., 2010, p. 46), and “service learning” (Clinton & Thomas, 2011, p. 52), placement is the most prominent and commonly practised. In fact, placements have been implemented by Australian universities for years, and have been seen as relating theories that students learn in courses with real-life work situations.
This suggests the importance of research on university work placements, including those for librarianship, archives, and records management students. An in-depth exploration of stakeholders’ views is necessary and will provide significant added value for students, universities, and the industry. The above has driven me to conduct a research project which focus is on investigating how students, host supervisors in the industry sector, university placement coordinators, and relevant professional accreditation bodies see the value of placements. The scope of research is undergraduate and postgraduate librarianship, archives, and records management student placements in Australia, within the period of 2020 to 2023. To add to the mix, the COVID-19 pandemic that occurs during this period has brought about difficulties in organising placement programs. This is also acknowledged and investigated as one of the research questions in the study.
It is expected that findings of the study will facilitate the maintenance and potentially the enhancement of mutual benefits amongst the stakeholders involved. Overall, the study will hopefully result in a best practice of sustainable placements for librarianship, archives, and records management students in Australia.
Clinton, I., & Thomas, T. (2011). Business students’ experience of community service learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 12(1), 51.
Johnston, N. (2017). Navigating Continuous Change: A Focus on Self-Direction and Skills and Knowledge Transfer. Work-Integrated Learning in the 21st Century, 32, 19–33.
Keele, S. M., Sturre, V. L., von Treuer, K., & Feenstra, F. (2010). Evaluation of the use of assessment centre methodology to enhance development planning, work placement outcomes and work readiness for postgraduate students: A pilot. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 1(1), 45–64. https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2010vol1no1art548