14 Jun 2013 08:00
WINDHOEK, 14 JUN (NAMPA) - The Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), through its Centre for Cooperative Education (CCE) and the United States of America (USA) Embassy in Namibia signed an internship agreement here on Thursday.
The agreement enables PoN students to do internships at different United States'(US) agencies in Namibia.
These include the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Peace Corpse, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Signing on behalf of the US Embassy in Namibia, Wanda Nesbitt, the US ambassador here, explained that students in Namibia struggle to find jobs because employers are looking for people who already have experience and skills.
'Internships are, therefore, one way to answer to the skills' gap currently faced by Namibia,' she added.
Nesbitt noted that institutions of higher education share an abiding ambition for preparing students for the world outside the classroom, adding that books and lectures are critical to this project in that they lay the fundamental groundwork for analytical thinking, writing and specialised knowledge.
Universities, Nesbitt said, are increasingly recognising that students also need life skills and work skills, which will make them competitive in the marketplace and smooth their transition from 'book-toting students to briefcase-wielding professionals'.
'I should add that employers are realising something similar - internships allow them to groom future employees,' the US Ambassador said, adding that when an employer sees an applicant has internship experience, they see evidence of seriousness and motivation, which no amount of training can achieve.
'Internships also enable students to step out of their comfort zones into boardrooms,' she said.
Though students' individual goals and motivations may differ, one thing these interns share is a hands-on learning experience, which enhances and sometimes challenges what they learn in class.
On his part, PoN Rector Tjama Tjivikua said to facilitate the placing of students in the work environment, the PoN established the CCE three years ago, specifically to build partnerships with different industry players for the purpose of work-integrated learning.
By establishing such partnerships, the PoN is not only making industry an extension of its learning environment, but is also creating a pool of experts, which will from time to time provide feedback that informs its curriculum.
'It is only through partnerships with industry that we can keep our commitment to making our programmes relevant to industry,' Tjivikua stressed.
The rector further noted that the PoN and the US Embassy in Namibia have entered into partnerships with various institutions of higher education in the USA, and these include Highline College Community College, Utah Valley University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of New Mexico, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Michigan State University and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.