The Federal Government has lamented that millions of graduates from tertiary institutions in Nigeria are unemployed because they lack the requisite skills for the job market.
This is even as it revealed that more than N170 billion has been disbursed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) as matching grants to States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) since 2015 to support the implementation of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in the country.
Secretary to the Goverment of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc Sonny Echono, spoke on Thursday, at a two-day National Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Conference in Abuja.
The conference with the theme: “Repositioning TVET through Policy and Legislative Options” was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) for stakeholders to identify options and actions for an improved TVET system in Nigeria.
Sonny Echono noted that there was an epic gap between the skilled manpower required and that which is currently available, saying most of the graduates produced in various Universities of Technology, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education (Technical) and Technical Colleges nationwide do not have specific skills required for the job market (market-relevant skills).
“The situation results in having millions of Nigerian graduates that are unemployed. This has created a shortfall of adequately skilled educated workforce which is one of the major constraints to the growth and development of our Nation,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary whose welcome address was read by Mr David Gende, Director, Human Resources, Federal Ministry of Education, 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.
Secretary to the Goverment of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, admitted the challenges being faced in the education sector including the problem of graduate unemployment and skill gaps in the country.
He, however, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has not only shown commitment to the improvement of education in Nigeria but demonstrated his ambition to overhaul the sector by ensuring e-learning, technical and vocational education and training, and adult literacy including special needs education.
SGF’s goodwill message was read by Mr Ariyo Benjamin, Special Assistant to Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Goverment of the Federation.
Mustapha said: “The President has shown his commitment and in Six (6) years, his achievements are self-evident. To mention a few; The Federal Government has disbursed more than 170 billion Naira in UBE Matching Grants to States and the FCT since 2015, 8 billion Naira in Special Education Grant to States and private providers of Special Education, and 34 billion Naira from the Teachers Professional Development Fund to States and the FCT.
He told the gathering that the Alternate School Programme (ASP), was designed to ensure that every out-of-school child in Nigeria gains access to quality basic education, irrespective of social, cultural or economic circumstance, in line with the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG-4).
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, in his keynote address delivered by his Special Adviser, Dr Adamu Kazaure, said the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030 would be a mirage if it is not hinged on a solid TVET system.
He listed some of the challenges of technical and vocational education to include public apathy towards TVET leading to low enrolment in the technical schools, inability to review curricula within the five years’ time frame, lack of tools and equipment or obsolete equipment in the Colleges, and using the curricula that are supply-driven instead of demand-driven; low enrolment of girls in TVET programmes as well as low morale of TVET teachers due to poor remuneration.
Others are: “dearth of academic staff with cognate industry experience relevant for the training of students to meet the needs of employers, lack of effective linkages with industries to facilitate exposure to the use of modern methods, processes and technology; lack of adequate infrastructural support for ICT applications in TVET Institutions, lack of political will and legislation on TVET at various levels of governance; and inadequate funding for the delivery of the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF), among others.”
He disclosed that the National Council on Education approved the mandatory inclusion of trade subjects in the secondary school curriculum and entrepreneurship education in the tertiary education curriculum.
“However, we have not demonstrated the required political will for successful implementation of the policy on entrepreneurship education.
“Presently, most of our schools lack competent teachers and instructional materials for effective handling of the 37 Trade subjects which are already being offered as compulsory subjects at Senior School Certificate Examinations since 2013,” he said.