New platform aims to transform organisations' internship programmes

Workpro makes it possible to develop, track, and mentor your interns online.

Many government departments and private companies are currently advertising their internship programmes to afford graduates the opportunity to gain industry-specific knowledge, skills and values through structured work experience. The experience is intended to enhance a student's academic, career, and personal development.

 

For the interns, working as part of a team on a variety of projects holds many benefits. To name a few: they gain industry knowledge they might not find anywhere else; accumulate evidence of their abilities that is verifiable by a supervisor; make critical professional contacts; improve their confidence; increase their levels of responsibility; identify further opportunities in the market, and possibly land a full-time job.

 

For the employers, in turn, internship programmes have benefits such as being able to test out new working relationships, in which extra sets of hands are available to help complete projects; offer a fresh perspective on business strategies and plans; develop a business’s mentorship culture, or recruitfull-time employees. These benefits do, however, come at a cost, as internship programmes present a huge administrative load which must be carried in addition to an organisation’s core business activities.

 

“Internships differ from learnerships as they do not lead to a formal qualification delivered by accredited providers and therefore place the responsibility for managing the academic, career, and personal development of graduates, squarely on the employer,” said Thamary Jani, Manager of a SETA-funded internship programme for Built Environment Professionals.

 

Employers therefore have to ensure that interns work under a supervisor who must take responsibility for their work. In addition, mentors must be allocated to monitor and support development of the intern for the duration, including ensuring that:

  • interns have a variety of projects and activities structured according to each’s development requirements.
  • interns increase their level of responsibility over time.
  • intern progress is tracked and development areas are identified and addressed.
  • interns submit evidence of their structured experience.

Because these activities are not part of an organisation's core business processes, they could easily fall through the cracks, especially with larger internship programmes. In such cases, interns are not sufficiently exposed to the desired range of activities or levels of responsibility and it is not surprising that engineering candidates, for example, take between 10 and 15 years to complete their candidacy internship instead of three years. These challenges are not only delaying individual progress or company attainment of targets, but also national development and transformation at large.

 

CanPro, a local company which provides customised solutions to organisations wanting to digitally migrate their workplace learning processes, has developed a web-based application called WorkPro, which serves as an online mentor. Liesel Kirsten, Managing Director of CanPro, says: “The WorkPro platform is an intuitive, easy-to-use online system available on computers or smartphones, and which provides structured activities and content to interns, their supervisors and their company coordinators. It also provides instruments to upload the team’s portfolio of evidence, as well as enables real-time monitoring and reporting of individual or programme progress.”

 

Kedibone Chauchau, who completed her internship in 2017, had this to say: “Utilising the WorkPro platform helped me to plan and structure my workplace activities against my career outcomes, log and verify my daily tasks, submit required reports effectively by providing templates, utilise an external mentor to assess my progress, upskill online and maintain an updated CV."

 

While the WorkPro system cannot teach interns  how your equipment works or make them loathe lunch breaks,  it will definitely eliminate the dreaded paper trail, reduce extra manpower required to manage internship programmes across a variety of occupations and range of economic sectors, cut costs, track progress of individuals and groups, and provide live data to inform reporting.

 

“Since WorkPro removed the administrative burden of our internship programmes, we have been able to spend quality time with our interns,” says Sharon Marimuthoo, MD of The Office Wand. “Not only did we have more time available, but because the platform reduced our programme costs, we could accommodate a larger number of graduates that desperately need workplace experience.”