Experiential training for university students: a search for a model
Malimabe, Dulcie Pulane
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This study examines the problems posed by a lack of experiential training at universities. The factors investigated include the high level of unemployment amongst university graduates and poor performance among new entrants in organizations. The major aim of this study was to explore the possibility of developing a model of experiential training for university students. This was done through the exploration of opinions of university graduates (both unemployed and employed), human resource officers and experienced employers to contribute towards experiential training policies in the universities in South Africa. The research is a qualitative study of the Phenomenological paradigm. Also used is an exploratory and descriptive perspective. Unstructured (open-ended questions) with schedules were designed to collect relevant information through in-depth interviews and participant observation. A research sample was drawn by means of using the Snowball sampling Technique. The results of this study indicated that universities of higher learning should as a challenge make an effort to change the process of higher education by introducing various models of experiential training such as internship programs, externship programs, work or job-shadowing programs, cooperative education or work study programs, and learnership programs. As experiential training is a field with a wide proliferation of terms, each institution can decide what it would like to name its pet program. To achieve the above goal, an eclectic approach to experiential training was proposed, and should be structured in such a way that it helps to bring the two cultures of education and work closer together. The aim should be to provide the students the opportunities to gain and acquire the necessary skills, knowledge and practical work experience related to their field of studies, therefore, making education a better preparation for working life. Suggestions for further research were proposed focusing on graduates' employability patterns in South Africa.