AN EVALUATION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF SECRETARIAL STUDENTS ON INDUSTRIAL WORK EXPERIENCE SCHEME:
A Case Study of Nigerian Universities.
Department of Vocational and Technical Education
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) programme is purposefully designed to bridge the gap between the theory and practice for students from tertiary institutions. This paper examines the success of SIWES in the provision of practical skills and competence to Secretarial Students from Nigerian universities in office technology and information systems. A research question and null hypothesis were formulated and data collected from 215 final year secretarial students of 2008/2009 session and 32 Lecturers of Business Education section from five selected Nigerian Universities. A six-item questionnaire was generated for data collection. Percentage and frequencies were used to analyze the research question, while T-test was used to test the null hypothesis at the significant level of 0.05. The findings revealed that University secretarial graduating students did not acquire the desired knowledge, skill and competences in modern office technology and information systems while on SIWES. Many of them did not get appropriate placement where they could benefit from these practical skills and competence. The paper recommends that the departmental model offices should be adequately equipped with modern office equipment such as computer, scanner, digital fax machine, digital copier, mobile note-taker to adequately expose secretarial students to modern office technology and information systems while still in the school.
The government’s decree No. 47 of 8th Oct; 1971 as amended in 1990, highlighted the capacity building of human resources in industry, commerce and government through training and retraining of workers in order to effectively provide the much needed high quality goods and services in a dynamic economy as ours (Jemerigb, 2003). This decree brought about the establishment of Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973/1974 and this had subsequently led to the formation of Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) to bridge the gap between classroom and work environment.
Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is a programme that is managed by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and according to Chukwurah (2007), it is charged with the responsibility to provide students in the tertiary institutions with an opportunity to gain practical skills, knowledge and competence in addition to what they have learnt in the class-room during their academic pursuit at their undergraduates days. It is also designed to prepare students for the industrial working situation they may likely find themselves after graduation. SIWES is a skill training programme designed to expose and prepare students of Agriculture, Engineering, Technology, Environmental, Science, Medical Sciences, pure and applied science and vocational education for the Industrial work situation which they are likely to meet after graduation. The Duration of SIWES is four months in Polytechnics at the end of NDI, four months in College of Education at the end of NCE II and six months in the Universities at the end of 300 or 400 or 500 levels depending on the discipline (Wodi and Dokubo, 2009)
The objectives of SIWES are to enhance the industrial skill acquisition and work experience of students, augment their theoretical knowledge to make them efficient at solving practical problems of the work environment. It also include the preparation of students for the industrial works situation which they are likely to meet after graduation and expose students to work methods and techniques in handling equipment and machinery not available in their institutions,(Asikadi, 2003) However, interactions with the university’s secretarial students on SIWES in some selected Nigerian universities reveal that the objectives of enhancing the industrial skills acquisition and work experience of secretarial students especially in the area of exposing them to modern office technology and information systems has not been achieved.
Statement of the problem
The advanced office technology and information systems and its subsequent influx in banking industry, manufacturing companies, educational and research institutions, according to Amoor (2008) has as a matter of fact, place a high demand on Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) to adequately expose secretarial students to the practical computer application packages and other office related equipment such as digital fax machine, scanner, mobile note-taker, and the internet. Unfortunately, this demand is not met because according to Ezechukwu (2006), many students do not secure placement in organizations where they would be exposed to the practical application of modern office technology and information systems. She stressed further that many students resorted to doing their SIWES in their parents’ houses. In addition, Igbinoba (2002) said that SIWES has not delivered the desired results since many students on this scheme do not acquire the expected practical skills and competence.
Interactions with the students on SIWES revealed that most of the time secretarial students were not properly placed in offices where they would acquire the practical skills and competence in modern office technology and information systems. Some of them, who were assumed properly placed, were not strictly supervised by the institutions’ supervisors and this reduced students’ commitment, and therefore, thwarted the effort of this scheme.
In view of the opinions of the scholars and the interactions with the secretarial students on SIWES, the researcher had an irresistible urge to evaluate the performance of university secretarial students in connection with the acquisition of practical skills and competence in modern office technology and information systems before and after SIWES.
How successful is the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) in the provision of the practical skills and competence to secretarial students in modern office technology and information systems?
There is no significant difference between the mean score of secretarial students before and after the practical skills acquired in modern office technology and information systems during SIWES
The descriptive survey research design was adapted for the study. The population of the study was 247. This was made up of 32 lecturers and 215 300-level secretarial students from five selected Nigerian universities. The choice of this group of population was purely on the assumption that the students have been adequately exposed to modern office technology and information systems while on SIWES.
Sampled Population and Method of data collection
Since the population was not too large, all the members of the population were used for the study. Therefore, there was no need for sampling technique. A 4-likert Scale rating structured questionnaire was used as the major instrument for data collection from the respondents. Based on the purpose of the study and the research question formulated, a six (6) item questionnaire was tailored to elicit responses from the respondents. Before the instrument was used, it was validated by the experts in educational research. With its consistency level of 0.875 from a pilot study, the instrument was found reliable for the purpose in which it was constructed. A 4 point likert scale with the ratings of 4 points for strongly agreed (SA), 3 points for agreed (A), 1 point for strongly disagree (SD) and 2 points for disagreed (D). The questionnaire was personally administered by the researcher and 240 copies were duly completed and returned.
Analysis of Data
For the analysis of the research question, a simple percentage was used after the frequency counts of the responses. Therefore, responses as strongly agree and agree were regarded as “agreed”, while strongly disagree and disagree were regarded as “disagreed”. The test of the null hypothesis was carried out at 0.05 level of significance.
Data Presentation and Analysis
The data collected in respect of the research question were summarized and presented in table 1 as follows:-
|1 SIWES is designed to provide skills and competence to students..|
|2. SIWES is relevant to secretarial students.|
|3. Secretarial students are adequately exposed to practical application of modern office technologies.|
|4. Some students do not go for SIWES but complete Log Books at home.|
|5. Students on SIWES are not properly supervised and guided during their SIWES attachment|
|6. Despite SIWES Secretarial students needs to enroll with an informal computer institute to perfect in computer application packages.|
The first item on table 1 stated that “SIWES was designed to provide skills and competence to students”. The responses indicated that 511, representing ( 88.45%) agreed to this statement while 59, representing (11.55%) disagreed. Going by the responses of the majority, it implies that SIWES was purposely designed to provide skills and competences to students in tertiary institutions.
Questionnaire item 2 stated that “SIWES is relevant to secretarial students”. The result of this questionnaire showed that 755, representing (91.66%) agreed while 63, representing (8.34%) disagreed with the statement. This signifies that SIWES is relevant to university secretarial students.
Item 3 stated that: “University secretarial Students are adequately exposed to the practical application of modern office technology and information systems during SIWES.” Here, the responses of the respondents showed that 135, representing (32.8%) agreed while 545, representing (67.2%) disagreed to this statement. Based on the findings, it was concluded that most of secretarial students on SIWES were not exposed to modern office technology and information systems.
Item 4 indicated that “Some students do not go for SIWES but complete the log books at home”. Here, agreed stood at 547 representing ( 81.52%) while disagreed stood at 124 representing (18.48%) From these two opinions, the researcher concluded that some students actually do not go on SIWES but had their log books signed at home and stamped to fulfill all righteousness. This was affirmed by Ezechukwu (2006) that many students resorted to doing their SIWES in their parents’ houses when they could not secure SIWES placement.
Item 5 stated that “students on SIWES are not properly supervised and guided during their SIWES attachment”. According to the respondents, agreed scored 344 representing (61.87%) while disagreed scored 212 representing (38.13%). Going by the majority of the responses, it was justifiable to conclude that students on SIWES were not adequately supervised by the supervisory institutions and this may have accounted for students’ non-exposure to computer application packages and information systems.
Item 6 stated that “Despite SIWES, secretarial students need to enroll with an informal computer institute to perfect in computer application packages”. The total agrees stood at 612 representing 85.59% while the total disagrees stood at 103 representing 14.41%. This result showed that the majority opinions indicated that despite SIWES, students still need to go to computer centres or institutes to learn more on computer application packages.
Table 2: T-test in respect of the Null Hypothesis
|Practical skills of secretarial students before SIWES.|
Practical skills acquired by university secretarial students after SIWES.
N=Number of respondents, STDV = Standard Deviation, DF=Degree of Freedom, t-Cal= t-calculated, t-crit = t-critical
The data in table 2 showed that the number of respondents stood at 240, while the degree of freedom was 239. The mean score of practical skills provided to secretarial students on SIWES before was at 16.2667 with the standard deviation of 2.45881, while the mean score of practical skills provided to university secretarial students on SIWES after was at 22.8947 with the standard deviation of 3.08083. The t-calculated was 2.9823 while the t-critical was 1.96. This implies that the t-cal. is greater than the t-crit. Therefore, the probability value was less than the alpha value (P0<0.05). By this implication, there is significant difference between the mean score of practical skills provided to secretarial students on SIWES before and after practical skills provided to university secretarial students on SIWES”. In view of this, the null hypothesis was rejected meaning there is significant difference between the mean score of secretarial students before and after practical skills was acquired.
Summary of findings
From the data so far analyzed, the following findings were drawn that:-
v SIWES is very relevant to secretarial students.
v Most secretarial students on SIWES are unfortunately not exposed to modern office technology and information systems.
v Students on SIWES are not adequately supervised by the supervisory institutions.
v Secretarial students in university need to enroll with informal computer institute to perfect computer application packages.
Based on the findings from this study, we conclude that the performance of secretarial students on Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is below expectation. This is because most of them are not exposed to modern office technology and information systems when they are on SIWES and the students are not adequately supervised during SIWES.
In view of the conclusion above, the following recommendations are proffered:-
v The duration of SIWES should be reviewed from three months to four months, and the programme should be as follows:-
(i) The 300 level students should be made to spend only two months on SIWES. This will provide them with the opportunity to interact with different categories of people, build positive working relationship with the people and possess the skills of team work.
(ii) As the students move into 400 level, the department should use the remaining two months for seminars and workshops in information processing and management using modern office technology and information systems for secretarial students. Competent Resource Persons in the area of information technologies should be invited to thoroughly expose the students to the practical applications of modern office technologies and information systems. Students should be made to sponsor themselves for this important seminars and workshops.
v The departmental model offices should be adequately equipped with modern office equipment such as computer, scanner, digital fax machine, digital copier, mobile note-taker and the Internet. An experienced Confidential Secretary should be employed and be charged with the responsibilities of adequately exposing secretarial students to the practical application of modern office equipment before they graduate. This would surely provide the university secretarial graduates with the knowledge, skills and competence in modern office technology and information systems to effectively meet the challenges of ultra modern office in the third millennium.
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