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“Schools are mostly focused on a permanent curriculum and assignment. But that’s not how the real world works.”

In a short series, StuComm will speak to students, professors and employers in Holland alike to ascertain how educational institutions are preparing their students through internships for the challenges of tomorrow.

Having spoken at length with students about the structure of the internships in the Netherlands, we spoke with Mieke Schrijvers, a professor at at Wellant College, to see if faculty members held similar or contrasting views on this topic.

Mieke Schrijvers is a Teacher and project leader training nutrition specialist (MBO 4) at Wellant College, and gave further insight into the complexities of the system. Mieke recently started a new direction of study last year to learn more about innovation management in education (corporate learning). Having done so she commented – “I would love to change to whole system!”

When asked to evaluate the system as a whole Mieke commented – “we do have a lot of great internship possibilities in vocational education but not enough. Internship are mostly about students who do their assignment for school or they are used as cheap employees.” This sentiment echoed the views of students we’d spoken to in previous weeks. They too were frustrated by the limited number of available opportunities, as well as the types of tasks given to the ‘fortunate’ students who were able to secure placements.

We then moved the conversation onto how Mieke would change the system if given the chance. “We should create more win/win situations. The company has to see it as an opportunity the get some fresh and new ideas. To get those things they have to invest in the student. But also school has to change, schools are mostly focused on a permanent curriculum and assignment. But that’s not how the real world works.”

The synergy again between the views of student and professor, could not be overlooked. Not only had they both highlighted the same problems but also offered similar solutions. Employees cannot be solely blamed for taking advantage of the system in place. Universities need to do more to work with companies over a prolonged period of time to develop systems and structures that can truly benefit the future employees of tomorrow. That being said, more must be done within organisations to challenge their new recruits and to give them an experience they can truly learn from and potentially continue when graduating. Being subsided, even with a small stipend, would go along way to increasing students sense of worth. In the next part of this series we’ll speak with the final piece of the puzzle, employees, to understand their perspective on the system.

In the next part of the series we will speak to the founder of a company in the Netherlands to heir his thoughts about the opportunities bestowed to students in the Netherlands.