INFLUENCE OF STUDENTS' INDUSTRIAL WORK EXPERIENCE SCHEME ON PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE STUDENTS IN SOUTH-WEST, NIGERIA.

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Introduction

Students' Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a skill development programme established by Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973 with the headquarters in Jos Nigeria. It is meant to enable students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria acquire technical skills and experience for professional development in their course of study as it bridges the gap between theory and practice. It is the accepted skills training programme in institutions of higher learning in Nigerian that forms part of the approved academic requirement in various degree programmes. It is a threecredit unit course, which must be met by students before graduation. As stated by Nse (2012), the scheme is a planned, supervised training and intervention programme based on stated and specific learning and career objectives, leading to the development of occupational competencies of the participants. It is also to expose and prepare students in institutions of higher learning for the industrial work situations which they are to meet after graduation. The scheme equally helps to familiarize students with work methods and expose them to the necessary experience to hand equipment and machinery that are not available in their institutions.

SIWES is also an effort to bridge the existing gap between theory and practice and expose students to necessary skills for smooth transition from the classroom to the world of work. It enables students to acquire technical skills and experience for professional development in their study. Before the inception of the Scheme, there was a growing concern among Nigerian industrialists that graduates of institutions of higher learning lacked adequate practical background experience necessary for employment. So, employers were of the opinion that the theoretical education provided by higher institutions was did not meet nor satisfy the needs of the economy. It was against this background that the Fund during its formative years, introduced SIWES to provide students with the opportunity of exposure to handle equipment and machinery in Industry to enable them acquire prerequisite practical knowledge and skills. (ITF and UNIJOS, 2011). These skills aimed at exposing students to professional work methods as the scheme (SIWES) acts as a catalyst for industrial growth and productivity_through professional development.

The Scheme started in 1974 in 11 institutions of higher learning with 748 participants. By 1978, it has widened in scope to about 5,000 participants from 32 different institutions in the country. In 1979 the Industrial Training Fund, withdrew from the managing the scheme due to problems of organizational logistics and the increased financial burden as a result of rapid expansion of SIWES (ITF; 2003). The scheme is a tripartite programme that incorporates the students, the institutions, and the industries. In Nigeria SIWES is financed by the federal government (through the ministry of commerce and industry) and managed by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) aiming at making education more relevant and also to bridge the yearning gap between theory and practice of Engineering, Technology and other related disciplines in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

The bodies involved in SIWES operation are known as the stakeholders and they are; the Federal Government of Nigeria (through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry), Industrial Training Fund, NUC/NBTC/NCCE, the institution, the industries or employers and the students. SIWES is a form of cooperative industrial internship programme among all its stake holders. Mafe (2009) stated that all stakeholders are involved in the operation of SIWES but that students are the key actors that are directly involved in its implementation, all other stakeholders have lesser role to play in the actual training process. Mafe (2010) citing Crag (1987) stated that, SIWES is generic because it cuts across more than 60 programmes in the universities, over 40 programmes in the polytechnics and about 10 programmes in the colleges of education. Students who participate in this training programme include those studying Library and Information Science, Engineering, Vocational, Technological and related courses in higher institution of learning. Other courses involved in SIWES include Agricultural science, Forestry, Industrial Chemistry, Microbiology, Geology and Mineral Science, Physics and Mineral Science, Plant and Environmental Biology, Computer Science, Tourism and Hospitality, Business Education, Industrial Engineering, Enterprise Creation and Management.

Statement of the Problem

There is no doubt that SIWES is a laudable skills development programme, geared towards bridging the gap between theories learnt in the class and the actual practice. However, in spite of the importance of SIWES in professional development of students, the scheme has been hampered by the challenges such as non-acceptance of students by some employers, non-relevance of places of training, inadequate supervision of students by some institutions, inadequate SIWES orientation programmes. Lack of finance for the smooth running of the scheme is also a challenge facing SIWES. Some technical activities in the library including cataloguing, classification, indexing and abstracting, compilation of bibliography, and book production are facing setback due to inadequate practical experience of the LIS students as it relates to their professional development. It is against this backdrop that this study on influence and challenges of students' individual work experience scheme (SIWES) on professional development of Library and information science students become imperative.

Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the influence and challenges of Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) on professional development of library and information science students. The specific objectives are to:

i. determine the organizations where LIS students had their training;

ii. find out the facilities available at the places of training of LIS students;

iii. identify new work methods learnt by LIS students during their training;

iv. examine the perception of LIS students on SIWES as it influences professional development

v. identify the challenges faced by LIS students during the industrial training.

Research Questions

This study sets out to provide answers to the following questions:

i What are the organisations where LIS students had their training?

ii What type of facilities are available at the places of training of LIS students?

iii What are the new work methods learnt by LIS students during SIWES training?

iv What are the perceptions of LIS students on SIWES as it influences professional development?

v What challenges did LIS students face during their training?

Review of Related Literature

SIWES is the acronym for Students' Industrial Work Experience Scheme. It is a skill development programme that is designed to prepare students of higher institutions of learning like Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education for transition from college environment to the world of work. Akerejola (2008) stated that the work experience is an educational programme where students participate in work activities while still attending school. This gives students the opportunity to be directly involved and be part of the actual work situation outside the classroom. For instance library and information science students are able to handle library materials and equipment physically for processing. Books will be accessioned, stamped, catalogued and classified etc. LIS students will also be involved in other library activities like circulation which involves charging and discharging, shelving and shelve reading etc. They will also be part of bindery activities for book production and these will make them to be involved in the actual work situation outside the classroom. It was specifically designed to provide students of tertiary institutions in specific courses, with the opportunity of acquiring practical skills and experiences on-the-job before graduation so that they can graduate as professionals.

SIWES as a form of cooperative education was described by Stadt and Gooch (1977) as a programme of occupational education for those who through cooperative arrangement between the institution and employers receive instruction/training by alternation of study in school with a job in an occupational field. They stressed that two experiences must be planned and supervised by the school and employers so that each contributes to the student's education and professional development. Also Mafe (2009) stated that there are two basic forms of learning; education and training both of which are essential to the productive world of work and the functioning of the society. Both education and training are important. For any effective education there must be some training input and vice versa. Every productive individual in this millennium must be able to combine and make use of the outcomes from the two forms of learning for effective professional development. Likewise Ugwuanyi, Chijioke and Ezema, (2010) opined that training is a key factor that enhances efficiency and expertise of the workforce.

The scheme prepares students for labour markets and has become an innovative phenomenon in human resources development and training in Nigeria today. They further stated that education has to with giving systematic instruction to students...

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