Nature Conservation Work Integrated Learning

The Conservation and Marine Sciences department offers career-orientated training that consists of a theoretical as well as a practical training component. The practical training component is known as the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Programme. The primary objective of the programme is to expose the student to the field of nature conservation and to provide the chance of gaining valuable experience in this field. The student will be familiarised with the nature conservation industry and get the opportunity to apply his/ her knowledge in practice.

What is WIL?

The basic principle of WIL is that personal growth and professional development are best achieved by an educational method that combines classroom learning with practical experience. WIL prepares the student more effectively for living in an adult-oriented world because it provides him/ her with meaningful interaction with the total environment. It provides reality and relevance to the theoretical knowledge he/she has already gained.

Students work for 10 consecutive months in an appropriate workplace such as a protected area, nature conservation orientated farm, or industry. During their tenure they need to identify, plan and execute a research project. They also need to expose themselves to, and participate in, activities related to resource management, general administration and maintenance, conservation compliance, and conservation communication. The level of involvement is of such nature that the student can demonstrate insight and understanding by providing a critical written assessment of the actions executed.

Does WIL provide practical career experience and education?

WIL provides career-related experience that extends the learning process beyond the limitations of the lecture room. The student will understand more about the expectations and requirements of his/her professional field. A WIL experience gives the student the opportunity to learn about the expectations of employment and the level at which he/ she will be required to function, once qualified. It also allows him/ her to apply what he/ she has learnt in the lecture room. The student will have the opportunity to test academic skills and knowledge through application in the largest laboratory available – the industry of his/her choice.

How does WIL benefit my career choices and development?

The WIL experience will enable the student to evaluate and assess the suitability of his/ her career choice before entering the work force on a full-time basis. This increases the likelihood that he/ she will be satisfied with the chosen career. The work experience gained during WIL will be of value when the student tries to obtain permanent employment by providing him/ her with useful employment contacts and marketable experience.

Employment advantages

WIL provides contacts for graduate employment. The student will have the opportunity to establish him/ herself in the workplace, obtaining work experience and employment references in the chosen career. This experience provides a head-start in salary and a position for permanent employment, after graduation, for many students. Most employers require employees who have relevant work experience.