Chioma Nnani: The Industrial Training Phase in Nigeria
My university degree took three years.
Some of my friends did theirs in four years, because they needed to do a year in industry training – IT.
This was their opportunity to prove that they were ready to join the world of work, before they actually graduated from university to join the world of work. It was also their chance to prove that they weren't only about the theory that they had been taught in their first and second year (IT was usually done after second year); and whatever they did/did not do during their IT, counted towards their final degree marks and classification.
Some treated it with levity; a chance to play truant – obviously nobody can be in more than one place at the same time; if you're supposed to be working at an establishment, you cannot physically be in classes.
Some others took it for what it was – an audition for a place in the highly competitive job market, where they had to prove they were knowledgeable AND teachable. I had this friend who did so well that she was offered a job. Meaning she had a firm offer of employment before she returned to university to complete her degree.
In Nigeria, IT students (not sure what else to call them) appear to suffer from a delusion: that they are doing the employer a favour. Bear in mind that regardless of the size of the organisation, it takes some resources to allow an outsider – who will be gone in a year – to tag along. You have to find tasks that are appropriate for them; but the tasks need to stretch them just enough. In some cases you have to find someone who is patient enough to allow them to be attached to them. You may or may not give them a stipend. Technically, employers do IT students a massive favour.
There is already a dearth of employment for real graduates. Some of them would do anything, even for a stipend. But we have some people who should be fawning, marinating in their illusion that they are indispensable. To worsen matters, they sometimes manage to poison the already-existing, real staff with their terrible attitudes.
I know a fashion designer, who happened to spend the entire duration of someone's IT on edge and upset. The IT student was not ready to learn and had an attitude that stank worse than a cocktail of expired cheese and rotten eggs. Just didn't give a hoot. Was allergic to simple instructions. Didn't understand boundaries. Took time off without warning. Grumbled consistently about how “madam doesn't like me, because someone is doing me from the village”. Preferred to attend church DURING work hours. Then, had the nerve to leave without waiting for IT release paperwork to be signed. It was scary to watch. Even more unnerving to note that the student will be unleashed on unsuspecting Nigerians as a fashion graduate.
Chioma Nnani is an award-winning author, who also contributes to business, lifestyle and literary publications. One of Africa's most fearless storytellers, she is a UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, who lives in Lagos, can be reached at @ChiomaNnani and blogs at www.fearlessstoryteller.com