A beacon of hope

Eight years ago, the Cooperative Education Unit (CEU) was established at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) as a custodian of the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) course, and it continues to be a beacon of hope for many students intent on entering the job market.

05 November 2019 | Youth

Justicia Shipena

Due to lack of work experience, many young people struggle to enter the labour market, hence the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) introduced the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) course, which is compulsory for all undergraduate students.

In this vein, last Thursday the university’s Cooperative Education Unit (CEU) hosted an industry recognition breakfast.

The breakfast was aimed at expressing gratitude to companies that recently made available internship placements to Nust students.

WIL aims to give young people the opportunity to gain experience, with a specific focus on practical skills, thus improving their employability.

According to Nust deputy vice-chancellor Dr Andrew Niikondo cooperative education is a powerful element of Nust’s curriculum framework, in which it pledges to offer career-orientated programmes.

“All our programmes allow students to benefit from both classroom education and training, along with first-hand work experience in the marketplace,” he said.

Niikondo thanked MTC for steering the MTC Namibia National Internship Programme, through which about 45 Nust students and 115 students from other institutions of higher learning in Namibia have benefitted in the second quarter of the year.

He added that the CEU has played a significant role to enhance the employability of graduates through the integration of theory and practice.

“Students are required to undergo a period of on-the-job training as part of their studies. This period of work placement varies from a few weeks undertaken throughout the period of study, to six months and a year in some programmes,” he explained.

Niikondo said because of this experiential learning approach, students hit the ground running when they enter the workplace.

“Employers, on the other hand, do not have to waste time and resources training employees who only have a theoretical background of knowledge.”

Tim Ekandjo, patron of the unit and MTC’s chief human capital and corporate affairs officer, said WIL or internship is vital and it is one of the aspects in higher education that ensures that education and qualifications speak to the needs of the industry and the country at large.

“Producing graduates who are innovative critical-thinkers significantly impacts the development of our country. An education system that produces a well-rounded graduate is a result of stakeholder collaboration,” he said.

Ekandjo highlighted some of the benefits acquired from industries through their continued support of WIL.

He said industries help the university in moulding and crafting graduates with employability skills that are ready for the market.

He added the university has and continues to receive feedback from employers on the quality and relevance of their programmes and curricula, which improves alignment with industry needs in terms of human resources.

Ekandjo said taking on students straight from university brings in new ideas, fresh perspectives and a different kind of enthusiasm to the workplace.

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