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Experiences of managers at supervising work integrated learning students in selected financial services organisation in the Western Cape, South Africa
In South Africa the government, industry and communities have placed pressure on Higher Education Institutions to deal with general skills shortage: whilst they prepare students to meet requirements and standards which industry expects. Universities of Technology are empowering students with theory, combining it with practical experience to generate graduates that are ready to meet industry’s demands and professional expectations. However, it has not proved easy to place students.The researcher has attempted to establish from companies the reasons the challenges and barriers posed during the Work Integrated Learning process. Work-Integrated Learning is important in bridging the gap between graduate attributes and industry expectations and the significant role that it plays in bridging the gap between graduate attributes and industry expectations. The workplace is a source of learning for students.The feedback from industry supervisors should be seen as an integral part of assessing students’ readiness for the world of work. The purpose of this research is to ascertain how managers deal with students during the Work-Integrated Learning period.The results of the study create foundation for future developments and research. It will also inform the development of an effective and innovative Work-Integrated Learning curriculum that is more supportive academically, and that encourages professional excellence and produces work-ready graduates. A qualitative research method was used in the study. Fifteen financial services managers from different companies were individually interviewed. Ethical approval for the study was sought and obtained. The results demonstrated that the managers experienced mixed feelings regarding their experience when supervising students in their respective companies. A closer examination of the managers’ responses, however, revealed that they had high expectations of students that participated in WIL, coupled with the quality of training provided by the Higher Education Institutions. These expectations include the following: effective time management, especially when reporting for work; regular attendance and team work, good and effective communication between company and the hosting university; and for WIL students to work independently, were all regarded as important.Although some managers had positive experiences of supervising students, there were those that expressed concerns about students’ levels of work readiness, as some indicated that students lacked self-confidence, while others raised concerns about students’ attitudes and lack of work ethics. It is recommended that the WIL programme should include activities that will enhance students’ confidence, independence and work-effectiveness. A collaborative effort should be made between various stakeholders that are involved in WIL: The need to give feedback to students on a full range of skills and competencies in the workplace, has not been extensively studied; hence an attempt by the researcher to establish some of the industry managers’ experiences in this regard.