Learning for employability in the workplace: Developing graduate work capabilities

Lina Markauskaite, Narelle Patton

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Across contemporary higher education programs, learning in the workplace is increasingly being used as a strategy to develop work ready graduates. Workplace learning (WPL) takes many forms including practicums, fieldwork, professional experience, clinical placements, internships, university clinics, farms or businesses, community and industry placements and projects. Learning in the workplace provides students with unique possibilities to develop a raft of professional skills through engagement in professional practice and experience of practice in real-life settings. However, the power of WPL to develop broader adaptive capabilities for future practice is diminished when viewed primarily as a possibility to gain concrete workplace experience in the development of discipline or occupational technical skills and knowledge.
In this chapter, we specifically address the question of how learning in the workplace could be purposefully designed to enhance development of students’ capabilities for future employability and adaptability in diverse workplace settings. We consider two critical aspects of WPL: 1) development of students’ capabilities to construct various professional-practical knowledge artefacts that support development of transferrable kinds of knowledge; and 2) development of students’ agency that involves capabilities to drive their own current and future WPL and shape their social and physical workplace environments.
We illustrate each aspect by using examples and argue that these two capabilities are central for preparing students for leaning and work in dynamic and rapidly changing workplace environments. These capabilities enable students to work, learn and solve complex problems not only individually, but also together with other professionals and clients. We discuss some challenges and practical solutions to implementing these learning approaches during WPL. We conclude the chapter by discussing how technological development shapes these two aspects of leaning in the workplace. We start the discussion by exploring three aspects of job preparedness: readiness, knowledgeability and capability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation for employability
Subtitle of host publicationLearning and future possibilities
EditorsJoy Higgs, Geoffery Crisp, Will Letts
Place of PublicationRotterdam, Netherlands
PublisherBrill | Sense
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9789004418707
ISBN (Print)9789004418691, 9789004418684
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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