The Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a skill acquisition training programme. It is designed to expose and prepare students of Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Technology, Colleges of Agriculture and Colleges of Education for the industrial work situation they are likely to meet after graduation. The scheme also offers students the opportunity of familiarizing and exposing themselves to the needed experience in handling equipment and machinery that are usually not available in their Institutions.
Before the establishment of the scheme, there was a growing concern among our Industrialists that graduates of our institutions of higher learning lacked adequate practical background studies and technicalities needed for employment in Industries. Thus, the employers of labour were of the opinion that the theoretical education going on in higher institutions was not responsive to the needs of the employers of labour.
In response to the above situation the Industrial Training Fund decided to establish a scheme that will be responsible for the training of the students of various institutions of higher learning in Nigeria in order to enable the students deem fit in the work experience and operations needed in the industries upon their graduation.
Hence, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) established SIWES in 1973 under the military administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. The ITF solely funded the scheme during its formative years. But as the financial involvement became unbearable to ITF, it withdrew from the Scheme in 1978. The Federal Government handed over the scheme in 1979 to both the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
After due consideration about certain conditions, and the need for proper management and implementation, the Federal Government of Nigeria handed the management of SIWES back to Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in November 1984. ITF officially take over the management and implementation of the scheme in July 1985 while its being fully funded by the FGN up till today.
SIWES program is mainly undertaken by students in science related discipline especially in universities while in polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education it is compulsory for all students despite the discipline. Each institution has a SIWES office through which they coordinate and mobilize their students for the program. It is always headed by a Coordinator of the SIWES Unit. In Nigerian Universities, the qualified students in their third and fourth year of studies are organized for the SIWES program, by allowing them to write to different organizations and establishments through the SIWES office. The program is always a six (6) months compulsory program for university students, one year for polytechnic students and three months for colleges of education. During this program, students are to learn on a hand-on practical exposition in all ramifications in relation to their course of study.
It is worthy of note that the Federal Government of Nigeria through Industrial training Fund pay students on Industrial training to enable them cushon the effect of the expenses they may be making during the program.
While on the SIWES program schools do send supervisors to different places where their students are doing their SIWES to ascertain the level of seriousness and how the students are coping with the program.
The supervisor is to interact with the students under his/her supervision, encourage them, grade their workbook and give feedback to the school management through the SIWES office.
At the end of the program students are expected to make a comprehensive and concise report about whatever thing they have done on the course of the program together with their logbook report. The logbook is the daily entries of their activities. The duo will be signed and commented by the industry based supervisors of the students and ITF officer of the state or region the student is doing the SIWES program.
The above documents, will also be submitted to the SIWES office of the school through the student’s SIWES officer of each department.
Finally, each department of the institution will schedule a SIWES defense. A day where all the IT returnees will make a presentation before their lecturers explaining and defending what they have learnt during the course of the program. The students score from his/her defense in addition to the score of the logbook and the report will determine the final grade of the students for that semester.
Over the years, this program has recorded a very huge success in blending the practical and theoritical knowledge of our students. Many students have gained automatic employment after their graduation in their place of industrial attachment. However, students that do dodge or maneuver the program should desist from such act as it is to their own detriment. They would rather embrace the opportunity to equip themselves academically and otherwise.
Swifttalk Limited, an internet enabling powered services provider, in her own contribution to this development, like other companies has over the years provided an enabling environment for students to do their SIWES program.