Unemployment: FG Urged to Develop Roadmap for Vocational Training


Obinna Chima

In order to tackle the rising level of unemployment in the country, the federal government has been advised to develop a national roadmap for vocational and technical training.

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), stated this in its latest policy brief titled: “Addressing Unemployment in Nigeria: A case for Revamping Vocational and Technical Education,” that was released on Monday.

Unemployment in Nigeria has risen by 44 per cent, from 14.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, to 18.8 per cent in third quarter 2017, just as underemployment also increased by 0.8 per cent, to 21.2 per cent in Q3 2017, from 20.4 per cent in Q1 2017.

In fact, since 2000, Nigeria’s economic growth has been accompanied by rising unemployment. While Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth had increased from 6.7 per cent in 2006 to 9.5 per cent in 2010, the unemployment rate had moved from 12.3 per cent to 21.4 per cent in the same period.

Also, prior to the economic recession, unemployment and underemployment rate had already reached a peak of 29 per cent. Between the first and third quarters of 2016, the economy created a net job of 422,133 while 3.7 million people entered the labour market in the same period.

This scenario signals endemic challenge of labour assimilation as manifested in mounting unemployment and poverty rate.
Therefore, to address this challenge,Nigeria must come to the realisation of the fact that the private and public sectors cannot meet the demand for jobs in the short to medium term, the report stated.

The NESG report noted that in the face of technological and industrial innovation, national strategy for vocational and technical education would further deepen globalisation and improve social and economic development.

In addition, it pointed out that investing in vocational and technical education enhances the skills of a country’s human resource and creates youth employment.

Hence, to reduce unemployment and stay in touch with recent innovation, it stressed that developing a national roadmap for vocation and technical training that addresses the skills and capability challenges across all sectors in Nigeria remains one of the main priorities for youth unemployment reduction.

“An example of this strategy is the Ghana’s five-year strategic plan for Technical and Vocational Education Training,” it explained.
Furthermore, the report charged the federal government to enact a National Vocational and Technical Training Act.

According to the report, in tackling unemployment problem through vocational and technical education training, the establishment of standardised regulations plays an important role in achieving a sustainable and effective system of skills development.
“Although there is currently a National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Act but this Act fails to identify some imperatives
corresponding to access, equity, quality and relevance of vocational education and technical training.

“For example, the Act mainly documents the establishment of the board, its fund system and other miscellaneous and supplementary. “However, in most countries where national vocational and technical training act exists, alignment of vocational and technical education with the labour market; provision of skills that are needed for development; development of young people skills for productive work and other critical considerations are central motive for the establishment of federal vocational and technical training act,” it stated.

Therefore, to promote skills development that reduces youth unemployment, thereport noted that the establishment of federal vocational and technical training act was crucial for Nigeria.

According to the report, developinggraduates and non-graduates with industry-need skills, development of requisite skills by active engagement with industry to match education and training with jobs creates a solution to the problem of skills gap and supports the development of young people skills for productive work.

“A model of this system is the Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria VET systems where firms are authorized to run high standard training schemes with the structured ordinance by the government to monitor the activities of the training system. “In Germany, where a similar model is run, having some vocational and technical education is a norm even for youth without a school certificate and official eligibility criteria for admission to the program,” it explained.

It noted that skill gap among school leavers and graduates had been a major cause of youth unemployment in Nigeria, statingNigeria’s education system does not provide adequate training in skills that fit for productive work.

According to the NESG, the education curricula at both secondary and tertiary institutions do not focus on prospective skills for youth employment, resulting in the misalignment of skills taught in the schools with the demand of the labour market.

“Higher institutions of learning keep producing graduates annually with ‘ academic knowledge ’ which is largely based on the conglomeration of several ‘ academic theories’ across all fields of studies but lack practical, technical, and vocational skills that are requisite for employability.

“In many Institutions (colleges, polytechnics, universities, vocational centres among others) where Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) is provided, issues of lack of proper administration and the use of obsolete equipment and outdated curriculum are prevalent.

“The consequence of these is having a large pool of graduates that spend more time in the labour market searching for jobs,” it added.