Structured Workplace Learning

Structured workplace learning (SWL) is on-the-job training that is primarily observational and is structured in a way that allows the student exposure and practical insight into industry. In addition, there is no requirement for students on the placement to be “productive” for the host employer/business.

SWL can produce positive outcomes for students as it provides students a realistic understanding of workplace expectations and enables students to develop basic employability skills.

However, despite SWL being observational-based work experience, it has been over-relied on and at times, misused by both schools and employers. Below are problems identified within SWL:

  • SWL being used as a substitute for school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBAT).
  • The over extension of SWL duration
  • The lack of accountability of how SWL is being conducted within a business.
The aforementioned problems have had a negative impact on industry-based outcomes as poorly constructed SWL has led to students developing no real industry relevant skills, resulting in them being lost to the industry. Often, SWL becomes a substitute for programs like school-based apprenticeship and traineeships (SBAT) in which such programs provide a higher level of education and training and is designed as a pathway for students to enter into the industry. In addition, SBATs provide credits towards an apprenticeship, whereas SWL provides no credits. SWL should remain what it was intended to be – a taster program that provides an introduction to industry.


  • SWL should only be utilised in a limited timeframe of no more than 10 working days at a workplace.

18 June 2015