Monday, December 6, 2021

Gov’t overhauls Internship program

The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is expected to carry a complete overhaul of the Botswana’s internship program. The program coordinator, Boitshepo Bolele admitted to The Telegraph that the overhaul was necessitated by lack of improvement. The overhaul of the original Internship Program comes after six years.

The program was not effectively designed to tackle the embedded skills mismatch between graduates and the job market. Among the changes that Bolele highlighted is measuring the ratio of qualified staff members to interns so as to ensure that learning takes place; the level of entry specification, which is intended to ensure a meaningful internship experience and internal application for jobs so as to give interns an opportunity to secure permanent employment. Due to the fact that allowances of private sector internships are paid through the BOTA levy, the program compels the internship office to ensure that companies are also held accountable for skills development.

“We intend to make this program a success. This program is an agent of development and not a placement agency,” said Bolele.

The general observation has been that while the Internship Program focused on readying graduates for the world of work, it remained blind to the demands of the organizations that absorbed the graduates. Observers believe that on that note, the program provided a loop sided approach to skills development, which gives impetus to the concern that it did not in actual fact successfully monitor the effectiveness of graduates’ learning experience.

The former practice, according to Bolele, focused solely on obtaining information on interns, following which placement was done in response to the request by organizations. Bolele explained that all private sector companies were grouped in a single file which did not specify a detailed assessment of each company. In that regard, she said, the new system will track the performance of a particular company, compile its history as well as assess its needs. Bolele emphasized that the new system will take into consideration both the needs of interns and organizations.

Available labour market data shows that, given the exponential growth in graduates and the fact that education no longer equates to securing a job, there exists fierce competition among interns to be employed. Interns however often complain that organizations do not show any interest in offering a permanent post, which leads them to believing that their efforts are simply exploited. This as a result leads to interns leaving immediately when a job opportunity arises elsewhere, a situation that threatens the learning experience intended to take place.

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