One of the weaknesses of Nigerian education system is that it does not gives due importance to vocational education. As a result there is a mismatch between the skilled manpower required and skilled manpower available. Every year, various colleges churn out thousands of graduates who do not have the specific skill sets required by the market. This has resulted in a situation where on the one hand there are scores of unemployed graduates and on the other hand there is a huge shortage of skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians, etc.
To rectify this situation vocational training programs and centers needs to be established and promoted in a better way (one example is Sani Abacha Youth Center in Kano State), perhaps establishing one in every 774 local governments of Nigeria or better, government should can convert the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme into vocational skills acquisition programme throughout the service year.
The National Directory of Employment (NDE) concept has far reaching benefit and multiplier effect on job creation and skill This may includes;
- Professional Online secretarial and transcription services,
- Professional computer operation and repairs,
- Professional architectural draughtsman-ship,
- Professional desktop publishing and digital printing,
- Professional electrical technician,
- Professional electronics repairs,
- Professional lathe machine operations,
- Professional refrigeration and air conditioning repairs,
- Professional plumbing services,
- Professional tailoring and dress making,
- Professional hair and skin care, fruit and vegetable preservation programs, etc.
In fact, education is useless if it does not make people fit for a livelihood. While educational institutes have increased by leaps and bounds since Independence in 1960, many products of these institutes are found to be not even capable of earning a livelihood. This is the result of bad and haphazard planning on the part of the educationists. Educational institutions have failed to lay any stress on the quality of the education that they impart, or the subjects they teach. These institutes still follow the subjects of study introduced in our curriculum by the British Colonial Government which have lost their significance for us today being free Nigerians. Hence, there is a bankruptcy of achievement by our educated children.
Besides a lop-sided curriculum, our primary education has been neglected which has led to a vacuum in the basic literacy standards. As a result colleges turn out plain and simple graduates and postgraduates who are absolutely unemployable when they come out of their colleges (this is another area I shall write about in my net post The Emphasis on obtaining Paper Qualification in Nigeria rather than being Educated). Hence, instead of increasing the numbers of colleges for general studies, it would be better to introduce more of vocational centers and institutes for the large number of children coming out of schools.
At present, vocational educational in Nigeria aims to develop skilled manpower through diversified courses to meet the requirements of mainly the unorganized sector and to instill self-employment skills in people through a large number of self employment oriented courses. Vocational education is being imparted through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics. However, this has to start at school level itself. When children leave school, they should posses some skill which can be further developed and they can get a job based on that skill. Students can be taught skills like painting, drawing, and clay modeling etc., as a part of the syllabus.
They could have it as an extra-curricular activity which they would enjoy and at the same time get groomed for the skill. These children, as they enter college they can start learning repair and mechanical jobs etc. This process would enable the students to develop some skills and also show their aptitudes. For these children college would be their vocational centre. These centers could, at a higher level also give degrees or diplomas in the skills of the study.
The entire educational system has to be built in a manner that will guarantee to the children a basic livelihood, once they come out after completing their graduation. Once the students get vocational education, their main aim of getting employment will be fulfilled and many a problems would be solved. It will be good for the country also, for the masses of the young will be in a position to join the mainstream of nation building as soon as they come out of their education outfit.
Today, the economy’s the world over are changing into knowledge based economies. This changing face of technology the world over requires an individual to be specialized in a particular skill. Only a person who is expert in a particular field can get a good job. Vocational education training institutes impart specialized and practical knowledge to a person and help them become independent at a particular age.
Vocational education training can be provided for a number of courses like health, technical, art, administration and other courses. These subjects can be further classified into specialized courses. For example, health can be divided into massage therapy, dieticians, and nutritionist. Any person can select any course of his choice and inclinations.
Vocational education training should be such that even working people can join the course, and even select the timings as per their convenience and nature of job. The vocational institutes should also allow the students to study online and attend either evening or morning classes.
The faculty of these Vocational education training institutes should be highly experienced and be able to impart practical knowledge to their students. As a result the students should be able to have a real life and practical industry experience. The students may also be provided with internships and stipend for motivation to perform better and excel in their jobs, similar to the (NDE Model at the beginning). Doing their job under the supervision of an expert would be a great learning experience for them as it would help them perform better in their job. For working professionals it would be a way to hone their skills while making money.
Care should be taken to regularly update the course structure of the training institutes because the technology and the fundamentals of economy are changing very rapidly. In the present scenario, providing practical knowledge based on the old concepts do not make any sense.