This project work addresses the crucial need to encourage undergraduate civil and environmental engineering students to gain employment skills and training right from the start of their studies so that their overall employability increases; their confidence level in networking with industry and within the workplace increases; and so that they are successfully able to obtain employment after finishing their studies. This initiative is a stepping-stone employability exercise which focuses specifically on first year students to help them engage with industry right from the start of their course. It is proposed that they would gain some realistic work experience both individually and as part of group within a virtual work environment using an action learning approach. The virtual environment used was based on SecondLife
a popular virtual reality programme. A pilot scheme was set up and run at Brunel University during the summer of 2014 using eight self-selecting first year students. The scheme’s outputs were extensively monitored and evaluated to assess its impact on the development of employability skills. This approach may prove a cost effective way of letting students gain an insight into the workplace whilst improving these skills. It may also prove a way for employers to select from a large range of students the best to actually undertake their real work-based internships.
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