History of SIWES (Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme)

If you have never come across the term SIWES, then you probably did not attend a Nigerian University.

Many cursed the very thought of it seeing it as a waste of time while others testified of its benefits and claimed to have enjoyed the experience.



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What is the essence of the SIWES?

Is it such a scam has many have come to think?

Find out in this post.

Meaning of SIWES

The five capitalized letters ‘SIWES’ means the “Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme”

History of SIWES

SIWES was established by ITF (Industrial Training Funds) in the year 1973 to solve the problem of lack of adequate proper skills for employment of tertiary institution graduates by Nigerian Industries. The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) was founded to be a skill training programme to help expose and prepare students of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education for the industrial work situation to be met after graduation. This scheme serves as a smooth transition from the classroom to the world of work and further helps in the application of knowledge. The scheme provides students with the opportunity of acquainting and exposing themselves to the experience required in handling and managing of equipment and machinery that are usually not made available in their institutions.

Before this scheme was established, there was a growing concern and trend noticed by industrialists that graduates of higher institutions lacked sufficient practical background for employment. It used to be that students who got into Nigerian institutions to study science and technology were not trained in the practical know-how of their various fields of study. As a result, they could not easily find jobs due to the lack of working experience.

Therefore, the employers thought that theoretical education going on in higher institutions was not responsive to the needs of the employers of labour. This was a huge problem for thousands of Nigerians until 1973. It is against this background that the fundamental reason for initiating and designing the scheme by the fund in 1973/74 was introduced.

The ITF organization (Industrial Training Fund) made a decision to help all interested Nigerian students and established the SIWES program. It was officially approved and presented by the Federal Government in 1974. The scheme was solely funded by the ITF during its formative years but as the financial involvement became unbearable to the fund, it withdrew from the scheme in 1978. In 1979, the federal government handed over the management of the scheme to both the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).

Later, in November 1984, the federal government reverted the management and implementation of the scheme to ITF. In July 1985, it was taken over by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) while the funding was solely borne by the federal government. (Culled from Job Specifications on Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme).

General Objectives of SIWES

SIWES is strategized for skill acquisition. It is in fact designed to prepare and expose students of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to the real-life work situation they would be engaged in after graduation. Therefore, SIWES is a key factor required to inject and help keep alive industrialization and economic development in the nation through the introduction and practical teaching of scientific and technological skills to students. (Culled from Detailed Manual on SIWES Guidelines and Operations for Tertiary Institutions). Objectives of the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme include:

  1. Provide an avenue for students to acquire industrial skills for experience during their course of study
  2. Expose students to work methods and techniques that may not be available during their course of study.
  3. Bridging the gap between theory and practice by providing a platform to apply knowledge learnt in school to real work situations
  4. Enabling the easier and smoother transition from school by equipping students’ with better contact for future work placement
  5. Introduce students to real work atmosphere so that they know what they would most likely meet once they graduate.

IMPORTANCE OF SIWES

All Nigerian students who study technology and science must know about SIWES. Partaking in SIWES as become a prerequisite for the award of diploma and degree certificates in many Nigerian Institutions according to the Nigerian government Educational policy. Undergraduate students of the following disciplines are expected to be a part of the scheme: Natural sciences, Engineering and Technology, Education, Agriculture, Medical Sciences, Environmental, and pure and applied sciences. The duration is for four months and one year for polytechnics and colleges of education students respectively and six months for university students.

Duration of SIWES

The duration of SIWES varies across Institutions

Universities

Period: At the end of 200, 300, 400 level of a degree program

3-6 months

Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Colleges of technology

Period: At the end of the 1st year of the 2 year ND program

4 months

Colleges of Education

Period: At the end of the 2nd year of the 3 years NCE program

4 months

SIWES unit

The SIWES scheme is to be coordinated by the SIWES Unit of the school: each department involved should appoint a representative, to work under the SIWES coordinator, for that department.

Participation 

It is compulsory for students to participate in all the activities of the SIWES scheme. These include orientations lectures, practical activities, log booking, report writing, etc.

For SIWES the grading is done as follows: employers rating 20%; institution’s supervisor rating 10%; SIWES report including Logbook 50%; oral interview or seminar by students 20%.

Behavioural

Manners and orderly behaviours are also taken into consideration during SIWES. For example, queuing up when necessary, avoiding fights, punctuality, attentiveness. Absenteeism is prohibited, as well as other wrong acts.

SIWES has become a program that has profoundly affected the education and industrial sector of Nigeria. SIWES allows for a broader scope of learning for Nigerian students and better work experiences. No matter the hitches that have been found with this scheme which include the unemployment found in Nigeria, the essence of the scheme still holds true.

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