Towards a draft policy framework for Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) 1

Towards a draft policy framework for Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)


‘First and foremost, WIL is about learning, and not about working. Work is the vehicle for learning’

-Dr. Ronel Blom


WIL practices in South Africa have been introduced within a policy vacuum. This is according to Shakeel Ori, who is the president of The Southern African Society for Co-operative Education (SASCE). SASCE has published the second issue of The African Journal for Work-Based Learning, which is dedicated to the development of a national policy for work integrated learning. The framework attempts to consolidate the best practices emerging throughout the national system as a contribution towards the development of a standard approach. It is expected that this document will contribute to debates and discussions about WIL at the level of policy-makers in the national system, to assist in establishing a single WIL policy for the system.


Dr Ronel Blom, who has compiled the framework, says that it is meant to deal with substantive issues and the nuanced implementation procedures will be left up to implementing institutions. These institutions will tweak the principles according to their own needs. She highlights that context is very important, and implementation will take place in keeping with the most appropriate modalities for the different sectors of the education and training system.


The framework responds to the following questions:


  • Who is the target audience for the framework?
  • What is the policy context for the framework?
  • What is the conceptual framework for WIL?
  • What are the guiding principles of WIL?
  • How do we implement WIL?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in terms of WIL?
  • Terms and definitions: towards a common understanding of WIL


Definition for WIL


‘WIL is an educational approach that aligns academic and workplace practices for the mutual benefit of students and workplaces’ according to the Council for Higher Education. The framework has adopted this definition for WIL, which is an overarching definition for the many different modalities of practice where learning is linked to authentic practice. It is a pedagogical approach adopted and integrated into curricula to enhance student learning and to enrich such learning through the incorporation of the latest practices from commerce and industry.


There are many terms and definitions used in relation to WIL. The framework deals with and defines concepts like ‘service learning’, ‘work based experience’, ‘workplace learning’, ‘internships’, learnerships’ etc. WIL has become the accepted term in policy, including the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training and is understood to refer to three ways in which the pedagogical approach can be expressed:

  • Learning for work – referring to vocationally oriented or career focused learning which is intended to induct new entrants to their chosen vocations and/ or profession;
  • Learning at work – encompassing a range of modalities delivered at workplaces that enhance the integration of knowledge and competencies through workplace experience; and
  • Learning through work – which engages students in specific work-related tasks as part of the curriculum, to solve real-life work-related problems.


SASCE is indebted to the many higher education institutions who have contributed richly to the development of this framework. Members and readers are invited to comment on and contribute to the finalization of the national policy framework. Copies of the framework can be obtained from SASCE. Contributions and inputs can be sent to Dr. Ronel Blom is acting editor of the journal at /+27 11 717 3071.



(SASCE) The Southern African Society for Co-operative Education is a non-profit organisation that promotes the integration of academic studies with quality work integrated learning. The Minister of Higher Education appointed the SASCE Board which consists of representatives from industry, universities, colleges and SETA’s.


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