The agreement, formally announced during an address by Universities Australia Chair Professor Sandra Harding at the National Press Club in Canberra today, comes as the Federal Government and G 20 Ministers commit to a new target for growing the global economy by an additional two per cent.
Signatories to the agreement are: Universities Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, and the Australian Collaborative Education Network Ltd.
The plan is part of a broader effort, advocated and supported by the Chief Scientist and the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency among others, to deepen relationships between universities, entrepreneurs, industry and communities.
Chief Executive of Universities Australia Belinda Robinson said the agreement would intensify and widen the critical partnerships that will lift employment, productivity and international competitiveness.
“With jobs lost as the economy adjusts to the closure of some manufacturing plants, it is vital that we foster an environment that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in lifting growth and expanding employment opportunities,” Ms Robinson said.
“The plan means university graduates gain the work skills they need to make best use of their up-to-date knowledge and prepare them for the workplace. Employers benefit by better utilising skilled productive workers. These are the practical elements that help foster a flexible economy able to generate and take advantage of the latest knowledge, innovation and research,” Ms Robinson said.
The plan involves universities and businesses continuing to identify, promote and disseminate further opportunities for Work Integrated Learning (WIL).
Work Integrated Learning includes activities such as work placements accredited for university course work, mentoring and shadowing programs, and internships.
Universities and business groups have agreed to establish a baseline of current practice, identifying further opportunities and a program of assessment for reporting progress.
Ms Robinson added that the Government’s plan to cut university red-tape is helping to create environments for initiatives such as these.
“The more confidence universities have that they can dedicate crucial resources to partnerships like this, rather than on productivity-sapping red-tape, means the more time that can be directed to such positive initiatives,” Ms Robinson said.
WIL and deepening relationships between universities and business is a major topic of Universities Australia’s Higher Education Conference held in Canberra from 26 to 28 February.
A copy of the agreement can be downloaded here: Work Integrated Learning – Statement of Intent (1).