Higher Education and Industrial Training

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1Background of the Study

The Student Industrial Work-Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a planned and supervised training intervention based on stated and specific learning and career objectives, and geared towards developing the occupational competencies of the participants. It is a programme required to be undertaken by all students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria pursuing courses in “specialized engineering, technical, business, applied sciences and applied arts” (ITF, 2004a).

The Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a Skills Training Programme designed to expose and prepare students of Universities, Polytechnics/Colleges of Technology/Colleges of Agriculture and Colleges of Education for the Industrial Work situation they are likely to meet after graduation. The scheme also affords students the opportunity of familiarizing and exposing themselves to the needed experience in handling equipment and machinery that are usually not available in their Institutions.

The Students’ Industrial Work-Experience Scheme (SIWES) started in 1974 with 748 students from 11 institutions of higher learning participating. By 1978, the scope of participation in the scheme had increased to about 5,000 students from 32 institutions. The Industrial Training Fund, however, withdrew from the management of the scheme in 1979 owing to problems of organisational logistics and the increased financial burden associated with the rapid expansion of SIWES (ITF, 2003). Consequently, the Federal Government funded the scheme through the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) who managed SIWES for five years (1979 – 1984). The supervising agencies (NUC and NBTE) operated the scheme in conjunction with their respective institutions during this period. Presently, participation in the scheme is limited to science, engineering and technology programmes in Universities and Polytechnics while in the Colleges of Education NCE programmes in Technical Education, Agriculture, Business, Creative Arts & Design, Computer Studies and Home Economics are eligible.

1.1.1The Necessity for SIWES
There are different forms of Cooperative Education around the world, all emanating from the innovation of Herman Schneider in 1906. In Nigeria, the current form of Cooperative Education is known as the Students’ Industrial Work-Experience Scheme (SIWES). Often, students mistakenly and commonly refer to “SIWES” as “I.T”; whereas industrial training is generic while SIWES is a specific form of Cooperative Education or industrial training operated in Nigeria.

Before the establishment of SIWES, there was no organized industrial training in Nigeria. Only those students who engaged in holiday jobs in areas relevant to their courses of study could be said to have had some form of work-experience or industrial training while others did not. This situation led to a spate of criticisms of graduates from Nigerian institutions as lacking practical skills in general and, in particular, the relevant production skills needed by industry. There was also a growing concern among Industrialists that graduates of Institutions of Higher learning lacked adequate practical background studies preparatory for employment in Industries. Thus, the employers were of the opinion that the theoretical education going on in higher institutions was not responsive to the needs of the employers of labour.

It is against this background, particularly with respect to acquisition of relevant production skills (RPSs), that the Industrial Training Fund established the Students’ Industrial Work-Experience Scheme (SIWES) in 1973 to acquaint students with the skills of handling employers’ equipment and machinery. The ITF solely funded the scheme during its formative years. But as the financial involvement became unbearable to the Fund, it withdrew from the Scheme in...
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