Experience Is Gained

A complaint from leaders in both public and private sector organisations is that time, effort and money are required to prepare youngsters entering the job market, so that they become productive employees.

This also applies to those who graduated from tertiary educational institutions and students who qualified at vocational training centres.

More investments are needed to develop youngsters so that over time they can fill supervisory positions, grooming them further for managerial and workplace leadership roles.

What irks owners of small enterprises is that often they are used as a training centre. Armed with expertise and knowledge, youngsters become attractive targets for recruitment by larger firms and public sector institutions.

It is a fact that Namibia has a skills deficiency. This is of course not unique as a similar challenge is faced by other developing economies.

To address the skills problem, new tertiary institutions are appearing on the landscape. Donor and public funding has gone into expanding vocational training centres and new ones have opened.

In summary, Namibia is not doing too badly when it comes to filling the skills gap. We now have a medical school to train doctors. Youngsters no longer have to go out of the country to train as pharmacists. Windhoek now even has a private nursing college.

Then there is an impressive engineering faculty in Ongwediva and a tertiary institution in Windhoek now trains architects.

In the public sector there has also been progress following the establishment of an impressive and well-resourced training centre known by the acronym Nipam.

So what about work experience? Are captains of business and leaders in the civil service facilitating this process? Evidently, we can do with improvement on this front.

Thousands of students will be entering the job market over the coming weeks having completed their education at either secondary school or tertiary level. Have they benefited from workplace exposure or gained knowledge by way of internships during their studies? How well are they equipped to swiftly become productive employees?

Experience is gained by working under the guidance of somebody or with people who have skills or knowledge to impart. However, this means work exposure and internship programmes must be on offer. With few opportunities on offer, indications are that managers of firms or leaders in the public sector are not doing enough to promote this experience gaining concept.

Internships are temporary and voluntary, so it is not necessary for the intern to be paid. It is not a trainee programme with a guarantee of employment at completion. The essence of an internship is to provide your services as a student in exchange for an opportunity to gain experience. Other benefits of an internship are contacts with prospective employers and to gain study credits.

It is not unusual for a high school student to use an internship to determine interest in a particular career. Earlier this year the daughter of a colleague spent time at an architectural firm to ascertain if this is the career path she actually wishes to pursue. She is now more determined than ever to become an architect.

Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles and his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, have for many decades run programmes that aim to prepare youth for employment and leadership posts. A programme launched by the aforementioned royals way back in the 1980s known as School on the Shop Floor convinced me of the importance of workplace experience.

Business support organizations (BSOs) including the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Namibian Manufacturers Association (NMA) and the Namibian Employers Federation (NEF) are challenged to place the facilitation of internships high on their work programmes for 2015. In this way they will complement the efforts of Namibia’s educators.

Danny Meyer is an entrepreneur with a social bias.

Source : The Namibian