The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a crucial component of higher education in Nigeria designed to expose students to real-world work environments. However, it is not without its share of challenges.
Here are some of the challenges commonly faced by students during SIWES and possible solutions.
- Time Constraints:
One of the most significant challenges students face during SIWES is the limited duration of the programme. Lasting for a few months (typically three to six months and a maximum of one year), this short period often hinders students from gaining in-depth insights into their chosen fields. In many cases, they barely scratch the surface of their intended profession.
Extending the duration of SIWES programmes could significantly mitigate this issue. By allowing students more time on the job, they can engage in more meaningful tasks, contributing to their personal and professional growth. This can be done by sparing some periods during the semester to be dedicated to practical work experience.
2. Insufficient Practical Experience
Another issue is the lack of hands-on experience. Students may find themselves doing menial tasks that don’t align with their academic pursuits, leading to frustration and disappointment.
Incorporating a structured curriculum that aligns with the students’ academic coursework and the industry’s needs can help provide a more tailored and practical experience. This approach ensures that students engage in tasks that directly contribute to their learning and future careers.
3. Lack of Supervision
In some cases, students may lack proper guidance and supervision during their SIWES placements, leaving them to navigate the workplace on their own.
Establishing a mentorship system within the SIWES programme can address this challenge. Assigned mentors or supervisors can guide students, answer questions, and provide valuable feedback throughout their internship.
4. Lack of Engagement
SIWES programmes can sometimes become mundane and repetitive, failing to engage students effectively.
To enhance student engagement, SIWES coordinators and employers should actively involve interns in meaningful projects. Encouraging students to take initiative and participate in problem-solving can make their experience more fulfilling.
5. Transportation Expenses
Many students face the financial burden of commuting to their internship sites daily without any financial compensation, leading to wasted transportation fare.
To alleviate this financial strain, organisations could consider offering stipends to SIWES participants or covering their transportation costs. Alternatively, universities could explore partnerships with companies to provide transportation subsidies.
6. Combining Academic Curriculum and Industry Requirements
Students may find that the skills and knowledge they acquire in the classroom do not align with the practical demands of the industry they intern in.
Regular communication between educational institutions and industry partners is vital. Curriculum updates and adjustments can be made based on industry feedback, ensuring that students are better prepared for their internships.
7. Unequal Opportunities and Discrimination
Some students may face discrimination, unequal treatment, or bias based on factors like gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.
Implementing diversity and inclusion policies within internship sites can help address this issue. Promoting a culture of respect, equal opportunity, and fair treatment is essential. Universities can also provide support and channels for reporting discrimination.
8. Limited Networking Opportunities
Building professional networks is crucial for future career prospects, but some students may struggle to network effectively during their SIWES.
SIWES programmes should include networking events, workshops, and opportunities for students to connect with professionals in their field. Universities can also offer guidance on effective networking strategies.
9. Inadequate Evaluation and Feedback
Without proper evaluation and feedback mechanisms, students may not know how well they are performing or where they need improvement.
Employers should establish clear evaluation criteria and provide constructive feedback to interns. Universities can also require periodic progress reports to ensure that students are getting valuable feedback.
10. Health and Safety Concerns
Some internship sites may not prioritize the health and safety of students, putting them at risk.
Strict health and safety regulations and standards should be enforced in all internship sites. Students should receive training on workplace safety, and there should be mechanisms for reporting safety concerns.
Implementing the suggested solutions can help enhance the quality and effectiveness of SIWES programmes, ensuring that students gain valuable skills and insights during their internships, setting them on a path to success in their chosen careers.
By: Precious Onajobi