By Joseph Erunke
The federal government says that millions of graduates in the country are unemployed because they do not possess the specific skills required for the job market. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono said this recently in Abuja during a two-day National Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET. He said the development created a shortfall of adequately skilled educated workforce and that is one of the major constraints to the growth and development of our country.
The conference was organized by the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Skills Development for Youth Employment, SKYE programme, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and implemented by the German Development Cooperation, GIZ
Echono noted that most of the graduates from various universities of technology, polytechnics, colleges of education (technical) and technical colleges nationwide do not have specific skills required for the job market. In other words, they lacked market-relevant skills. The situation results in having millions of Nigerian graduates unemployed.
Speaking at the event which aimed at repositioning Nigeria’s technical and vocational education and training through policy and legislative options, Echono explained that given the situation, the present administration’s emphasis is on technical, vocational education and training (TVET) and skills acquisition. He explained that the federal government took this position in recognition of the fact that TVET is the bedrock of the socio-economic growth and development of any country.
Echono said that government at all levels had been making frantic efforts to make Nigerian young-adults relevant in the current economic development by establishing technical colleges, polytechnics, mono-technics, vocational enterprise institutions (VEIs) and innovation enterprise institutions (IEIs) and model skills training centers (MSTC) which would equip them with technical and vocational skills through formal and non-formal channels across the states of the federation.
At the conference titled: “Repositioning Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) through Policy and Legislative Options for National Development”, the Permanent Secretary explained that the main focus of the conference was to develop synergy among the stakeholders of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Nigeria through policy and legislative options which would serve as a foundation for (TVET) development, coordination and effective implementation in Nigeria.
Echono observed that there was no doubt that an epic gap existed between the skilled manpower needs of the country and what was currently available and assured participants that the initiative was highly welcome by the federal government of Nigeria. The initiative would enhance the achievement of the administration’s ‘change mantra’ through effective manpower development and a viable skill acquisition programme in areas of technology that would enhance national development. And to that effect, the federal government had embarked on the establishment of Skill Training Centers (STCs) to energize government’s comprehensive efforts at youths’ skill capacity-building through investment in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).”
He commended the effort and support of GIZ in bringing together all the stakeholders of TVET as think tanks in repositioning TVET through policy and legislative options. “We sincerely hope that this will create a window of opportunity for public and private establishments to further support and promote the development of TVET,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Head of Programme, Skills Development for Youth Employment, SKYE, Hans Ludwig Bruns said it was the right time for all relevant stakeholders within the TVET sector to jointly work on the TVET reform process. “This is needed to provide better vocational education for the young people in Nigeria” he explained. According to him, Nigeria is currently facing tremendous challenges in terms of sustainable job creation and productivity.
The high numbers of unemployment and underemployment have become major socio-economic challenges over the past decade.
“It is connected to the issue of skills development which is interlinked to the challenges of adjusting TVET policies, regulations and implementation. It cannot be over-emphasized that high quality and relevant vocational education and training are a prerequisite for economic development. The topic is a high priority in the reform agenda in many countries and Nigeria is not an exception. It is worthy to note that the government of Nigeria has taken important steps forward in establishing the National Skills Council under the chairmanship of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with the objective to develop skills for the country through TVET. However, challenges are still remaining. Public education providers need to make education and training more relevant to the demand of the private sector. The momentum of reform to achieve good results is now and will need rapid steps to provide quality vocational education to the high number of young people who are already in or will be joining vocational education and training in the coming years,” he said.