Makerere University wants Government to make it mandatory for employers to take on students for industrial training. The university leadershipâ€™s concern is understandable.
It is through internship that students are able to acquire practical skills which increase their competitiveness on the job market. Denying them this chance is as good as rendering them unemployable.
No employer wants to take on a green horn; that is why they insist on work experience. It is ironical, however, that employers, who give lack of practical experience as the main reason they donâ€™t want to take on fresh graduates, are also reluctant to take on interns, who offer free labour, in exchange for practical experience.
There is a problem here, which cannot be solved by government forcing employers to take on students for industrial training. Out of the fear of falling foul of the law, employers will accept the interns, but then deny them the practical skills they need, by either ignoring or sidelining them. But it shouldnâ€™t be like this.
Universities should get off their academic high horses and link up with employers to find out why they are reluctant to take on their products â€” not even as unpaid interns.
The problem could be the studentsâ€™ attitude to work. Many students tend to carry their come-easy-go-easy student lifestyle to the work place, reporting to duty when they will, sneaking off at the fast opportunity, and spending the time in between abusing company facilities like telephones and computers. No employer would stand that.
Others are reluctant to work under less educated but definitely more experienced people. Yet others consider certain work beneath them. They want to start at the top.
The challenge for university leadership how to convince employers that interns have something positive to contribute to their business and at the same time convince their students to take internship seriously, because it offers a foothold in the increasingly competitive job market.