IN THE spirit of good corporate citizenship, organisations both in the public and private sectors in Namibia have an active role to play when it comes to work integrated learning (WIL) /internship initiatives by the local tertiary institutions.
La Trobe University defined work integrated learning as an umbrella term used to describe a range of approaches that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum.
In Namibia specifically, it has been found that many tertiary students have limited options when it comes to internship opportunities even though it is an academic requirement during their final year of studies before obtaining their respective qualifications.
However, some students have experienced challenges in finding placements at organisations for their internships, resulting in them experiencing delays with obtaining their qualifications. Another concern is that most graduates lack real world experience as they have not been exposed to work integrated learning.
Both the public and private sector often complain that recent graduates lack work experience, but if these sectors don't open up their organisation, how are the students expected to gain relevant 'real-world' experience?
The purpose of the WIL programme is for students to undertake an internship that enables them to apply theoretical knowledge gained from their studies in a practical setting.
Tertiary institutions look to the various industries to provide a controlled working environment in the form of job placement opportunities.
Although different organisations may have different requirements and arrangements as far as their WIL programmes are concerned, those that have incorporated this initiative in their operations have made a significant impact.
In fact, most Namibian professionals started out as interns and with hard work, dedication and the right attitude they grew in their professions.
Green Enterprise Solutions, a local company that provides Information and Communication Technology (ICT); is one of the organisations championing WIL.
It has opened its doors to college and university students for internship opportunities.
The company signed an agreement with the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) to take in their students for work integrated learning.
Over the past six years to date, Green has hosted some students from NUST, University of Namibia (Unam), Institute of Information Technology (IIT), International University of Management (IUM) and Lingua College.
For Green Enterprise Solutions, the internship programme offers a broad range of opportunities for students to gain insight in the technical and administrative programmes of ICT, namely in software development, infrastructure technologies, networking and security, warranty services, project management, sales and marketing.
The duration of Green Enterprise Solutions' internships varies from three to six months or even longer, depending on the internship guide and requirements as well as performance of the interns.
At an induction session earlier this month, Green's managing director Llewellyn le Hané said: “That as a Namibian company, it is important to actively participate in this programme, else Namibia will not have local capable resources to contribute to the development of Namibia with bespoke ICT solutions. Indeed, if we want to grow as a nation, we need to 'pull together' and practise the spirit of Harambee.”
Present at the event was Carol Millward, NUST's industry liaison officer who motivated the NUST student interns to take this opportunity seriously and make the most out of it.
Millward added she was humbled to have been part of this session and hopes many other industry players will continue to support NUST and other tertiary institutions in this programme.