By Adedotun Ajayi
The late Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm worker can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
Education is a right of every individual. It unlocks the development of personal and national potentials of citizens of a country and the world at large. Currently, emphasis is shifting away from the general education that encourages mere acquisition of certificates to skill-based education which centres more on what one can do and the ability to apply requisite skill in real work environment. In Nigeria, the rising unemployment has helped to heighten the need for vocational and technical education.
Improving skill acquisition will no doubt solve Nigerian’s multiple problems regarding human capital development, empowerment, unemployment and economic instability. The world has recognized that no meaningful social and economic progress could be recorded when majority of the populace is unemployed. This is why nations are striving to overcome the problem of unemployment especially among its youths and Nigeria is not left out. Since many programmes introduced to tackle the issue of unemployment in Nigeria has failed the nation, it now becomes obvious that the easiest way to achieve the goal is by improving skill acquisition through technical education for youth empowerment and sustainability.
The youth population in any country is a significant force for national development. They represent the future of the country and play a pivotal role in shaping the direction that the nation takes. Young people are an important demographic that holds a lot of potential for driving change, innovation, and progress in various sectors.
According to Olubunmi Adewa, an economist, in Nigeria, youth involvement in technical education can drive economic advancement by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. With the skills learned in technical education, youths can create products and services that meet the needs of society, leading to job creation and economic growth.
She said “Youth involvement in technical education can drive economic advancement by equipping them with relevant skills for the modern job market. With a focus on technology, they can become a valuable workforce in various industries, stimulating innovation and productivity. Additionally, a tech-savvy youth population can attract investment and promote entrepreneurship, leading to economic growth and competitiveness on a global scale”
In the same vein, Adekoyejo Adeloye, an IT specialist, said Nigeria faces high levels of unemployment, especially among its youth population. The said technical education would provide practical skills and training that directly align with the needs of industries and the labour market.
According to him; “By equipping individuals with vocational skills, they are better prepared for employment opportunities, increasing their chances of securing jobs and reducing unemployment rates which in return drive to economic advancement. Also we all know the Nigeria economy relies on various sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and technology. Technical education ensures a steady supply of skilled workers who possess the technical expertise required by these industries. By training individuals in specific trades, technical education directly addresses the skill gaps in the workforce, enabling economic growth and competitiveness. Government at all levels should encourage youth involvement in technical education, it is for the greater good” he said
He concluded and said “To maximise the benefits of vocational education in Nigeria, it is essential to invest in quality training facilities, ensure the curriculum aligns with industry needs, establish effective partnerships between educational institutions and the private sector, and provide ongoing support for vocational graduates in terms of job placement and entrepreneurship support.
“The impact of youth on national development cannot be underestimated. The youth are the future of our country, and their contribution to national development is essential. We must continue to invest in their education and skills development, provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and support their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial pursuits. By doing so, we can harness the potential of our youth and build a prosperous future for our country”
On the contrary, Ayomide Olupona, a political scientist, said entrepreneurship and technical education has never helped Nigeria in anyway, especially in the manufacture of modern machines for production of finished goods that can compete favourably with imported ones.
According to him; “The best entrepreneurship has offered us is to use social media means to engage in selling of imported products as well as setting up of few businesses with the use of foreign machines. It is appalling for government to still keep preaching the sermon that can never bring solutions to us”
Moving forward, he said “Every sector of the Nigerian economy has been badly affected by the erroneous policy of entrepreneurship and technical education. From the agricultural sector to the transportation sector, from manufacturing to education, from construction to entertainment, name it, we have rendered our nation incapacitated when it comes to production of goods and services. There can never be abundant job opportunities as long as we keep executing this lame practice”
He continued and said; “I wonder why we have not given so much vocational training to professionals operating as doctors, nurses and pharmacists in the medical field. We give this set of people trainings that can make them compete favourably with their foreign counterpart. I believe it should appear proper to the government to substitute entrepreneurship and technical education with the training they receive in the teaching hospitals. The government (after emptying the laboratories and workshops of polytechnic and universities) substituted requisite training for our engineers and scientist with entrepreneurship and vocational training, so they are rendered handicapped when it comes to provision of modern goods and services as well as job creation”
“It is high time we changed our job creation policy of entrepreneurship and technical studies to provision of qualitative education at all levels, especially science and technology education so that Nigerian graduates would possess requisite modern and sophisticated skills for our nation and the world market at large. It is only qualitative education and intensive research that can initiate intellectual thinking for creation of innovative goods and services”
“Entrepreneurship and technical studies have been found to have contributed immensely only to economy of nations with massive investments in education and research. Singapore and South Korea are the examples of nations that have eradicated illiteracy and have invested huge funds into science and technology education, so entrepreneurship thrives there” he concluded.