Education to thoroughly prepare students for the workplace
DUT’S Shakeel Ori making great strides as head of co-operative education department
Shakeel Ori, director of the Durban University of Technology’s co-operative education department, is no stranger to receiving accolades. He was recently appointed as the newest member of the World Association for Cooperative Education (Wace) executive committee. The association founded in 1983 to foster co-operative education and other work integrated learning programmes worldwide. Its main goals are to build a membership of educators and employers around the world, produce biennial world conferences on co-operative education and develop a newsletter with worldwide distribution, devoted to issues involved in work integrated learning (WIL) and co-operative education.
Ori works hard to forge close working relationships between students and industry, and the dynamic and passionate director has now been given the opportunity to join 14 other highly respected colleagues, who will meet once a year to set up policy and plans for the global organisation. They will also collaborate with programme committees to ensure that Wace events (research symposiums and world conferences) have a strong research stream.
Speaking on his achievement on being selected to represent Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Wace’s executive committee, Ori said he is excited to be part of the executive of such a global body.
“I have been on the Wace board of directors for seven years and we have participated in their world events, including hosting the Wace World Conference here in Durban. And given that there has been a lot of focus on the change of the WIL body, it was decided that I would be a suitable candidate for the Wace executive committee. The other reason that I am happy to be on board is that there are many more countries that are adopting WIL for their national strategy for employability, and that is something I am keen to help promote,” he said.
Ori added that the co-operative education department’s objective is to facilitate co-operation between DUT, external stakeholders, community and governmental departments. The department has two main divisions, one being for experiential learning placements (WIL) and the other for graduate placement.
Through Ori’s successful networking and through his role as a South African Business Events ambassador, past-president of the Southern African Society for Cooperative Education as well as director of the World Association for Cooperative Education, he has been at the forefront of engagement with many industries. He persuades these industries to take DUT students on for experiential learning. One of the positive outcomes of this unit is that it has brought in funding for research students and bursaries by linking up with the right people and Skills Education Training Authorities.
Ori said his success, as well as that of his unit, is as a result of “good relationships that we build and nurture with external organisations and companies as well as people across the university” who have supported the work of his department.
“Going forward, we need to prepare students to be work ready. That is, they must have work ethics and realise that the world of work is different from an academic classroom. Lecturers should also play a more active role in preparing the students for the workplace in the future. Education is a partnership, which, through co-operative and work-integrated education, allows the development of graduate attributes, employability, including self-employability and entrepreneurship, and improved academic performance — it’s not just [about] giving out academic certificates.”
Shakeel Ori, director of the Durban University of Technology’s co-operative education department. Photo: Supplied