By Funmi Ogundare
Stakeholders drawn from the academia, business environment, government, non-profit organisations, among others recently converged on Radisson Blu Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos for a Social Impact Reception with the theme ‘The Education Agenda: Rethinking Vocational Training’, designed to ensure that Nigerians, particularly from low income background, have access to quality education.
The programme, organised by United Way Greater Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation with the objective of improving lives through the mobilisation of the caring power of Nigerian communities, saw panelists discussing issues relating to soft skills and youth employability, private sector participation, human capacity development, funding vocational training, meeting the needs of the labour market, among others.
The Coordinator, German Dual Vocational Training Partnership, AHK, Lagos, Mr. Kehinde Awoyele stressed the importance of Technical and Vocational Education (TVE), saying that the private sector has to help to develop curriculum to train youths in skills set.
He highlighted his organisation’s efforts by partnering private bodies in developing curriculum and training youths in different skills, saying, “we believe that the only way we can move forward is to mobilise the private sector. Though the government has a role to play in education, we cannot afford to leave it in the hands of the government because it is too expensive. We need to create a structure for it and ensure that TVE is financed.”
In his remarks, former Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), Chief Olawumi Gasper expressed concern that young school leavers are not attracted to TVE and graduates of tertiary institutions are roaming the streets looking for employment.
“What works well in other climes may not work well in Nigeria because youths are not attracted to TVE. We have a very huge deficit for skilled workforce. In order for us to address this problem, we need industry-relevant training for manpower development. There is no government that can deliver TVE in contemporary Nigeria.”
He also stressed the need for the industry to develop the curriculum, adding that training teachers that would in turn train the youths with the development of new technologies and machines will be an added advantage.
“There are some skills set that are deficient in terms of quality and quantity, we need to set up an industry advisory council to drive experienced personnel to support the delivery of TVE and also ensure apprenticeship training,” he said, adding that the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) must be engaged to enable the apprentice training to succeed.
Gasper opined that for small businesses to thrive there must be skilled and competent manpower to support them.
The Executive Director, West Africa Region, African Venture Philanthropy Association (AVPA), Mrs. Oluwatoyin Adegbite-Moore said the private sector has to be well engaged to ensure that the skills of the youths fit the industry, adding that local content and human capital development must also be emphasised.
“There are a lot of models that are working that we need to key into, we need to train people for the oil and gas industry, it is also very important that we invest in TVE,” she said.
The Executive Director, United Way Greater Nigeria, Mrs. Olayide Olumide-Odediran, who expressed delight about the contributions of the panellists, said, “private sector partnership is critical; vocational training is our responsibility be it from the employment angle to the curriculum and funding. They also talked extensively about looking beyond technical skills to the future of our economy; the new and digital economy and how that can also fit into TVET.”