As the last semester of the school year approaches, thousands of graduating students gear up for internships or on-the-job training (OJT) to get a taste of the world of work.
But are the available internship programs living up to the objective of preparing students for work after graduation?
To ensure that internship programs live up to expectations, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Jobstreet.com and the National Youth Commission (NYC) launched the National Internship Movement at the 2011 Jobstreet Career Congress at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on August 26.
Leading the launching ceremonies were DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Jobstreet.com Country Manager Grace Colet, Commission on Higher Education Nona Ricafort and NYC Commissioner Earl Saavedra.
The movement is a year-round partnership program that targets to engage more than 1,000 employers and schools to create effective, efficient and sustainable internship programs that will lead to increased employability of graduating students.
“Internships provide students the opportunity to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, and gain required school credits,” said Cynthia R. Cruz, Executive Director of the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS).
Cruz was among the speakers at the 2011 Jobstreet Career Congress.
“We need to develop clear and consolidated guidelines on internship, apprenticeship and OJT programs that will help our young jobseekers maximize these opportunities to gain needed experience for the world of work,” urged Cruz.
In a study by the ILS, “Alternative Pathways: Toward charting an Actionable Framework for Youth Employment & Migration,” Cruz noted that many young jobseekers are finding difficulties in entering the job market. Among these difficulties include the ambiguity of learnership, apprenticeship, internship and OJT programs.
“We need to create a pool of internship providers and develop of a code of practice among providers which will help professionalize internship in the country,” advised Cruz.
A preview of what to expect in entering the job market, internships should provide students the needed boost to transition from education to employment through gainful work experience from course-required workplace training.
In response to the call for better internships, this year’s Jobstreet Career Congress theme: “Securing Internships. Securing Jobs. Securing Future,” has centered on facilitating internships for employers, students and school administrators.
“As a daily conduit between jobseekers and employers, we are a daily witness to the difficulty both employers and jobseekers have in making the match for the right jobs and the right skills,” said Jobstreet.com’s Colet.
Jobstreet.com is the largest online job matching facility in the country.
“With more employers seeking relevant work experience from jobseekers, and jobseekers wanting more opportunities for work experience while still in school, we think that internships are key in bridging this gap between jobs and the jobseekers,” said Colet.
More than Serving Coffee and Running Errands
Internships or OJT programs, have frequently been identified with students who serve coffee and run errands for intern supervisors, defeating its purpose of bridging students from school to work.
During island-wide consultations last year led by the ILS and the NYC for the Labor and Employment Plan, 2011-2016, youth leaders raised the issue of varying lengths of service and the unclear tasks and skills to be developed in internship programs.
The consultations also found out that OJT programs are not being taken seriously by some students. Most OJT programs were found to be too short and not aligned with courses being taken up by students. Youth leaders also said that companies did not seem to trust the trainees’ competence.
Almost 500 school deans, practicum and career placement heads, guidance counselors and HR practitioners attended the Congress. The ILS is a co-convenor of the National Internship Movement. It is an attached agency of the Department and serves as the policy and advocacy arm of the DOLE.
The Cebu leg of the Jobstreet Career Congress is scheduled on September 2 at the Crown Regency Hotel in Cebu City, where more than 100 school administrators from Visayas and Mindanao are expected to participate. The Congress will culminate with the National Internship Month Sign Up and Application Premiere on September 20 at the SMX Convention Center, where students nationwide are expected to register for the largest internship sign-up in the country.
Linartes M. Viloria
Institute for Labor Studies, Department of Labor and Employment
Contact Nos.: (02) 5273490/5273452 / Fax: (02) 5273491
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