Students taste business virtually

WA students are tasting the business world through an employment program that closes the gap between education and work.

Simulated or ‘virtual’ business environments known as practice firms provide students with work skills by mirroring the operations of real companies.

While there is no exchange of goods or money, the virtual firms are expected to show a profit.

Australian Network of Practice Firms national manager Donna Reid said the organisation was currently in the process of establishing links with education and training providers in the Asia Pacific region who had shown interest.

“Trading between national and international practice firms is a major learning component of the initiative, with Australian firms keen to explore trading relationships with their Asian partners,” Ms Reid said.

“With the development of electronic commerce facilities and increased access through the Internet, Australian students will have greater communication and trading opportunities with other practice firms in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Two Japanese firms and one in Chinese Taipai are currently registering with us.”

The ANPF has commissioned West Coast College of TAFE – home to WA’s three practice firms – to deliver workshops on practice firms around Australia.

A total of fifty-seven practice firms currently operate in Australia and more than 3,000 operate internationally.

Balga TAFE practice firm facilitator Dianne Bryant said practice firms had been common in Europe for almost fifty years.

“The Germans have been using practice firms since before the second world war and in Austria, involvement is compulsory,” Ms Bryant said.

She said the Peters and Brownes Group recently signed a partnership with TAFE to develop Polar Image, an integrated dairy and ice cream company.

WA’s first practice firm was plastics rotational moulding company Polytough Reflections, formed in February 1998.

The third, Discovery Tourism Services, operates from Joondalup TAFE as an inbound tourism and retail travel agency.

Ms Reid said the ANPF was targeting regional areas of the state to expand Australia’s network of practice firms, with Esperance touted as the next to take part.

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