by Solomon Osadolor
Every summer, when schools go on break, there’s a set of students who don’t go home to have fun and generally try to put anything school-related on the back burner. For them, the onslaught of learning continues, except this time it won’t be in the classrooms. It would be at a company or any other establishment where they’re to supposedly learn how to practically apply some of what they’d been learning in school and also learn useful skills that’ll be relevant after they graduate. This is the Industrial Training part of university education. This is how higher education works. Students gets trained both by the academia and the industry related to their program – a mix that ensures the students garner intrinsic values that becomes useful to them and the country in general.
The role of companies in the training our undergrads has been grossly understated. In fact, their indifference smacks of a case of shooting oneself in the foot. Well-trained graduates usually make for quality employees, and therefore robust, more productive companies. It appears our corporations are rather more willing to play the waiting game. Little wonder why most companies have to retrain their employees for a period after hiring them.
Of course it seems rather more pragmatic to train an employee that you’re certain will serve your company with the skills you gift him with instead of investing that money on a pool of students who may never work for you. This is why companies would rather wait till the students graduate and then hire a handful before training them. But what are the odds that an employee you trained won’t change jobs in the future – taking all that training/experience with them?
Many undergrads today don’t get a wholesome industrial training experience. Some miss out on the experience altogether (because a: they don’t get companies that’ll absorb them, b: they see it as a waste of time and find means to fill their reports anyway). It also has to be said that there are students who find the experience enjoyable and rewarding. We need to work out a way to make the experience more wholesome and rewarding that students (and employers alike) would look towards it with eagerness.
Companies need to take more responsibility for the training of students in preparing them for the realities of work outside of school. It’s not enough to just build laboratories or commission classrooms with your corporate name on the plaque (these are great contributions, no less); there has to be some form of working relationship between the faculty board at our schools and the board over at the companies that will have a bearing upon the development of our students.
What if we had more companies launching programs that will afford students an opportunity to show case intellectual and innovative potential by making them work on projects that buttress the lessons they learn in class? What if companies actually had varying stakes in the school system where they get a chance at poaching some of the best students depending on their various stakes in enhancing learning at a faculty? What if we had actual courses that are taken (at least fortnightly) not by a lecturer but by a company representative? There has to be a way for schools and companies to work out all the modalities for these to be possible.
What if, instead of blithely issuing out letter-headed IT letters, Course Advisers actually went out of their way to recommend students to companies for IT programs? That would probably help bridge the gap for students who’d have probably found it difficult to secure placements.
And corporations need to take IT students more seriously instead of just passing them off as untrained personnel there to take up space. They’d also do better by taking the time to train these students and overcome the rather selfish urge to not do so out of the consideration that they may not gain the students back as their employees. It has to be emphasized that companies aren’t obligated to pay IT students. But they’re obligated to train them. They have to play their part in ensuring a robust and thorough academic process is properly tempered with adequate industrial training. That is how our schools will work to produce the better graduates our country/economy is in dire need of.