Is workplace-based student mentoring effective at preparing youths for their future career paths? It certainly should be provided that the workplace is actually mentoring the students and allowing them to learn as well as experience all the aspects of the business, and not just using them as cheap labour! First though, let’s establish what exactly is workplace-based student mentoring.
It is basically the students being taught in the workplace or “field” rather than in a classroom. It is the type of apprenticeship used in the “old times” before there were colleges or universities. A student apprentice under the right mentor soon became a “journeyman” and then advance along the career path to become a “Master”. This system produced very fine workers and artisans. Some education systems are now combining this “old style apprenticeship” with classroom studies to produce a well rounded, more qualified worker.
For it to work, the workplace needs competent staffing that is interested in the students’ well being and advancement, many places are not. The student should be moved from department to department so they can learn about all the different aspects of the business. This allows them to learn first hand about any difficulties that may be encountered and how people currently deal with them. They may either use these techniques themselves or come up with unique solutions.
Will this help the student along their future career path? Most definitely! Problem solving is essential in every business and the better one solves problems, the better the chances for advancement. Practical experience is always different from theoretical and both are needed; combined with a regular education actual experience can be extremely beneficial. The youths becomes known as “problem solvers” rather than a “problem creators” and other places may then offer the students positions, sending them further along the path of their chosen career.
This means that that for the workplace-based mentoring the students also need to be actively pursuing their education as much as possible. In the workplace, ask questions of your fellow workers, put in extra hours finding out exactly what needs to be done and how it should be properly done! Then in the classroom, ask the teachers about what you did and how it differs from your studies. These discussions will help you in the future.
The youth may discover that this isn’t the career path that they want to follow, and that allows them to consider other options, which is career advancement in a different fashion!