The Placement and Career Services at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona has partnered with 20 private-sector companies in a new Job Shadowing Experience Programme (JSEP), intended to initially help 500 students make better career choices and get exposure to the world of work.
Manager of the UWI Office of Placement and Career Services, Ms Merrit Henry, said the programme is based on the need for second and final year students to have "real life exposure to the world of work in preparation for employment."
JSEP is being developed in collaboration with major private and public sector organizations, the UWI Alumni Association and the Office of Placement and Career Services and is expected to run from November 2012 to March 2013.
Companies currently on board include the University itself, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Bank of Nova Scotia, National Commercial Bank, Fujitsu Limited, Caribbean Cement Company Limited, Institute of Jamaica, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, and Liguanea Family Dental with more set to accept students as of January 2013, the Placement and Career Services said.
Selected to participate in the programme will be 200 students from the Faculty of Social Sciences, 150 from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences and 150 from the Faculty of Humanities and Education.
Henry said that for the companies involved, hosting job shadows - students - "is a chance to make a difference in the workforce of the future without making a major time or financial commitment."
Managers may also discover new skills and talents in the process, she added.
JSEP will build on job preparation programmes routinely done by the Office of Placement Services including career expositions, world of work seminars, mock interviews, career counselling and summer employment programmes.
According to Henry, "job shadowing is a workplace experience option where students learn about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker."
She further explained that "it is a temporary, unpaid exposure to the workplace in an occupational area of interest to the student. Students witness first-hand the work environment, employability and occupational skills in practice, the value of professional training and potential career options."
Job shadowing may be undertaken using just a few hours of a day, an entire day or a couple of days in an organization.
"During this period of time, the assignee (student) is expected to observe and ask questions about what they (workers) do," Henry said, adding that students can learn what is required for different jobs and careers and see which ones they are interested in pursuing.
The placement and career services manager is expecting that student participants will "gather information about specific careers by observing professionals in their places of business." It will also help them make informed decisions about whether they want to work in that company or industry.
Another outcome expected is an increased chance of those students being hired by the companies. "While shadowing, students can meet people who may become impressed by their communication skills. This can give participants ... an edge over job candidates who have not met company representatives in person," she further explained.
On the students' part, she says a willingness to take unpaid time out of one's time to shadow an executive or worker is sometimes viewed as an indication of commitment.