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Students, employers meet at integrated learning expo

One of the biggest challenges facing students today is gaining work experience.

That is why the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Department of Boland College hosted a business exhibition at their Worcester campus last Thursday.

The WIL Department is specifically tasked to assist students in gaining placements for their internship, learnerships or apprenticeship periods. Not only are students assisted in the placement process, but job readiness workshops are also offered to aid students.

The aim of the exhibition was to create a platform where students could interact with employers and gain first-hand knowledge about the industry, to make contacts within the industry, to explore the variety of career opportunities within their respective fields of study and to identify potential internship positions.

Businesses had the opportunity to promote their organizations, create awareness of their field of expertise and a meaningful database of potential employees, as well as to network with other exhibitors and institutions and to demonstrate products and services in an interactive manner.

In her keynote address, Wendy Adams, the College’s vice principal for innovation and development, said the previous minister for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, had mandated colleges to change workplaces into training spaces for students.

She said the College needed not only a buy-in from employers locally to take students in, but also feedback on precisely what they needed the College to provide them with.

In her address, Lona Odendaal, a facilitator of mentorship programmes and life skills training at the Koue Bokkeveld Training Centre, advised students that an internship is mainly a programme where a student, after finishing his or her academic qualification, learns “how to work”.

“It is a different ball game out there,” she said. “You are not only competing with students from your own college, but against applicants from other institutions. If you work on a farm, for example, you are also in a classroom, but only one without a roof. Sometimes you go in at 07:00 and you leave at 19:00. You must be willing to do the hard work; that is what employers expect. A qualification is not a job title. When you get a placement as an intern, only then will you learn how to do the job at hand.”

Two ex-students of the College also spoke about their experiences with internships at local businesses in the agricultural sector.

Altogether 17 exhibitors met with students, spoke to them about opportunities and accepted CVs.

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