Exploring non-placement work-integrated-learning (WIL) through industry-endorsed hybrid-curricular projects for fashion graduate success



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • hybrid-curriculum projects, industry endorsed, non-placement WIL, on-campus WIL, student engagement, work-integrated learning


To thrive in the fast-paced fashion industry, graduates must possess critical skill sets upon entering the workforce to ensure they are fully prepared for employment. This immediate need from the fashion industry necessitates that students gain practical, experience-based inputs from the fashion curricula pitched within the fashion higher education environment.

In line with the DEFSA theme “Vulindlela: making new pathways”, this paper investigates the “Learning: new approach to design education” subtheme through explorative research into work-integrated learning. The paper emphasises the importance of equipping fashion industry graduates with critical skills and practical experience to enhance their employability. A focused approach to fashion education, where modules within a set curriculum do not account for skills and knowledge transferability, no longer successfully prepares students for entry-level career opportunities. Moreover, implementing work-integrated learning poses challenges, such as securing appropriate placements and increasing student workload.

In a comprehensive literature review, the authors argue that fashion education curricula must incorporate a hybrid learning approach to work-integrated learning that bridges the gap between academic and industry requirements. They suggest that graduate success rates and employability will improve by reintroducing work-integrated learning, which involves industry contributions and project-based curricula with reputable fashion brands. A novel conceptual framework is proposed to overcome current challenges and enhance content relevance and student engagement. The researchers explore and define a conceptual framework that effectively includes an industry-endorsed hybrid-curriculum approach incorporating project-based, problem-based, theory-based work-integrated learning formats under a relevant brand umbrella. The aim is to create a sustainable pathway to increase student engagement and success in collaboration with the fashion industry.



DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (https://www.defsa.org.za/imagine).