Internship makes a student a perfect future employee
By Hilya Nghiwete – As the CEO of Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), we spend a lot of time talking to both educators and industry professionals. From CEOs to directors, but also with employees at an operational level. What strikes me time and again is their question; “Why does it seem as if recent graduates aren’t ready to become productive members of the workforce?”
It is a troubling remark to hear. It’s also a question that isn’t easy to answer, as there needs to be a symbiotic relationship between tertiary institutes and the corporate world. Our Namibian institutions should be graduating students who will be welcomed with open arms by employers.
Students get degrees, so they may improve their working knowledge and skills to become productive employees that contribute to both the workforce, earn a fair salary and help in building a robust knowledge-based economy. The NSFAF helps facilitate the process and this is also why internships together with Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is essential.
There’s a large reliance on expatriates for skilled work in Namibia, mostly because some employers don’t believe they can get the skilled human resources locally.
This means that instead of trying to remedy the situation by improving our own students and graduates we are hiding from the problem. NSFAF and our fine academic institutions are there to make the young graduates become highly-skilled members of the Namibian working life.
However, if corporations and organisations don’t feel these institutions are producing the right caliber graduates, we need to address this. One way of doing this, is through Work Integrated Learning, a form of learning where periods of study are interspersed with practical or related work in business, industry or government agencies.
This way students are given the opportunity to effectively integrate the theory of the classroom with the practice and the responsibility of the workplace. They also pick up the right work ethics and habits.
This makes students desirable employees by providing the opportunity of real work-experience. This gives the students a head-start in their professional career, positioning them for success and sustained development.
Creating, developing and stimulating the right skills and work ethics is vital for the students and is part of the educational process. It is worth investing in and both academic organisations and employers will benefit greatly.
If purpose is carried out with due diligence, companies and other employers can rely on getting young and eager staff in the form of soon to be graduates who are familiar with what is required together with the obligations and responsibilities of being part of an organisation. Knowing what is expected of you in a working environment is a critical aspect to being successful as a new entrant into the labour force.
Giving graduates a head start and an opportunity to excel and grow at a much faster pace within an organisation. It also means that in turn wages will increase and the possibility of paying back loans will become much less of a burden.
Businesses need to move away from the mind-state that this is doing the students a favour. Students and organisations are very much intertwined when it comes to the success of their workforce and the long term success of a venture.
The more economically active people are, the more potential there is down the value chain for using products and services.
About the author
Hilya Nghiwete is the Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund