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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Training is a key factor in enhancing the efficiency and expertise of the workforce. The Students’ Industrial Work Experience (SIWES) program prepares students for labour markets. It has become an innovative phenomenon in human resources development and training in Nigeria. According to (ITF, 2004a), The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a planned and supervised training intervention based on stated and specific learning and career objectives. It is geared towards developing the occupational competencies of the participants. It is a programme required to be undertaken by the students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria pursuing courses in “Specialized Engineering, Technical, Business, Applied Sciences and Applied Arts”.
Mafe (2010) opined that: “SIWES is generic cutting across over 60 programmes in the Universities, over 40 programmes in the Polytechnics and about 10 programmes in the Colleges of Education. Thus, SIWES is not specific to any one course of study or discipline”. He added that the effectiveness of SIWES cannot be looked at in isolation with respect to a single discipline; it is better explored in a holistic manner since many of the attributes, positive outcomes and challenges associated with effective implementation of SIWES are common to all disciplines participating in the scheme for students and teachers respectively.
The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) was founded in 1973 by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). The aim of the scheme was to expose students to the industrial environment and enable them develop occupational competencies so that they can readily contribute their quota to the development of national economic and technological growth after graduation.
The participation in SIWES has become a necessary pre-condition for the award of Diploma and Degree Certificates in specific disciplines in most institutions of higher learning in the country, in accordance with the education policy of government.
The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) can be rightly described as Nigeria’s practical training support for classroom lectures and tutorials. In other words, it’s an accepted skill training programme initiated by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). SIWES bridges the perceived gap between theory and practice in Accounting, Engineering, Technology, Science, Agriculture, Medical Sciences, Management and other professional educational programmes in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
The main focus of the scheme is to involve employers in the educational process of preparing students for work outside the four walls of their institutions with a view to developing a well-skilled and articulated knowledge, to benefit the students and create a self-reliant economy.
1.2 INDUSTRIAL TRAINING FUND (ITF)
According to ITF training Policy, The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) was set up under Act No. 47 of 1971 (as amended up to date) to promote and to encourage the "acquisition of skills in industry and commerce with a view to generating a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the economy". To finance the scheme, the Act provides for contributions on the part of employers and for subventions on the part of the Federal Government. The Federal Government made available the sum of N1,000,000.00 (£500,000) during the Plan Period 1970-74 as takeoff grant.
The Industrial Training Fund (ITF), the manpower development agency of the federal government was established to impart technical skills to those employed in the manufacturing sector and other sectors of the economy.
The Mission Statement of the ITF, the provision of decree 47 of 8th October, 1971 empowers the ITF to “promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in the industry and commerce with a view to generating a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the Nigerian economy”.
In pursuant to its statutory responsibility, the ITF has expanded its structures, developed training programmes, reviewed its strategies, operations and services in order to meet the expanding, and changing demands for skilled manpower in the economy. Beginning as a parastatal “B” in 1971, headed by a Director, the ITF became a parastatal “A” in 1981 with the Director-General” as the Chief Executive under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry.
The fund has a 13 Member Governing Council and operates 9 departments at the headquarters, 25 Area Offices, 2 Skills Training Centres, and a Centre for Industrial Training Excellence.
As part of its responsibilities, the ITF provides direct training, vocational and apprentice training, research and consultancy service, reimbursement of up to 60% levy paid by employers of labour registered with it, and administers the Students’ Industrial Work Experience (SIWES). It also provides human resource development information and training technology service to industry & commerce to enhance their manpower capacity and in-house training delivery effort.
The main thrust of ITF programmes and services is to stimulate human performance, improve productivity, and induce value-added production in industry and commerce. Through its SIWES, vocational and apprentice training programmes, the fund also builds capacity for graduates and youth self-employment, in the context of small scale industrialization, in the economy.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
SIWES is a mandatory training programme for students in tertiary institutions. It geared towards helping them to achieve industrial skills, yet it is faced with some problems which could impact negatively on what the programme is set to achieve. One of such problems is poor funding of the scheme which has posed a big challenge in terms of paying the students. According to the Minister of State, for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ioraer Ortom, the payment of Students Industrial Work- Experience Scheme (SIWES) allowance is a big problem facing the Federal Government (Daily Trust, Oct., 31, 2011).
Inadequate supervision by Industrial Training Fund is equally a major challenge which has hindered the scheme from performing optimally. Students on SIWES are not well-supervised; this has made some of them to devise all forms of ways in filling the log books. In fact, some students undergo the programme just to pass the course and never to get the needed industrial practical experience.
Rejection of SIWES students by some organizations has also frustrated the scheme as well as the students. In fact, it is not uncommon to see SIWES students roaming about looking for organizations that can absolved them in the first three weeks of the time allotted for the programme.
Though school managers perceive the problems and students grumble, yet no meaningful research has been conducted into the study. It is against this backdrop that this study is set to investigate problems that could jeopardize the programme.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study is to accomplish the following.
· To find out from students how important they perceive SIWES program to be.
· To find out ways in which the programme can be improved.
· To find out problems that students encounter while on SIWES.
· To proffer tangible solutions to the problems identified.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The data generated and analyzed in the course of the research were used to answer the following research questions
1. What major problems do students encounter while on SIWES programme?
2. Are Student –Teachers satisfied with the present state of the scheme?
3. Would Student-Teachers like SIWES programme to continue based on their experience?
4. In which areas would they want the programme improved?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of immense benefits to SIWES students because it will enable them to see SIWES programme beyond taking the course to pass it, but as a way of gaining practical industrial experience before graduation. It will also be of importance to the school authority in that it will enable them put mechanism in place to ensure that students are encouraged and motivated for the programme. It will also give first-hand information to the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) about problems students face during SIWES and how these problems can be tackled. Educational administrators and policy makers will find it useful in making educational policies in the future.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study covered SIWES Student-Teachers in Lagos State University (Agege annex) Local Government Area of Lagos State. Forty (40) SIWES students were randomly selected and the findings and generalizations were based on the data collected from them.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The choice of forty (40) SIWES Student-Teachers was based on the limited resources available as well as the need to work with a manageable sample size in other to ease the data collection and analysis processes. The researcher also encountered problems in getting the respondents to fill the questionnaires; some out rightly rejected filling the questionnaires. Even some of those who filled them were persuaded before doing so. It is also the researchers’ desire to explore other materials but the financial resources available were limited.
1.9 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF THE KEY TERMS
It is a programme whereby students of this school are sent to industries and commercial houses to have practical knowledge for two (2) months at the end of each session.
It is carefully considered opinion or judgment of a particular aspect to know how well a certain judgment is looked into.
Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES)
It is a skill training programme designed to expose and prepare students for the industrial working position or situation they are likely to face after graduating from higher institutions of learning.
Industrial Training Fund (ITF)
Industrial Training Fund (ITF) is an organization that attempts to bridge the perceived gap between theory and practice on Engineering, Technology, Science, Agriculture, Medical Sciences, Management and other professional educational programme in Nigeria tertiary institutions.
This is a student who is studying to be a teacher and who, as part of the training, observes classroom instructions or does so closely supervised. This is also a college student who is teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher in order to qualify for a degree in education.
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