James Sowole in Akure
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on universities to engage more meaningfully with employers of labour and the organised private sector to make their products employable.
The president, who expressed concern at the description of Nigerian graduates as unemployable, stated this in his speech at the 31st Convocation of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).
The university graduated 131 with PhD, 767 masters degree and 541 bagged Post Graduate Diplomas in various discipline while the Project Director, African Climate Competence Centres, Department of Environment, Culture and Sustainability, Federal Republic of Germany,
Gavin Kouevi Ananou, was confered with Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa).
Buhari, whose speech was read by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National University Commission (NUC), Dr Suleiman Yussuf, said government was not comfortable when products of its citadels of higher learning are described as unemployable.
Buhari therefore called on universities to be more proactive in ensuring that their graduates were better equipped to function more meaningfully in the world of work in addition to acquiring the requisite entrepreneurial mindset and can-do-spirit which he said, had become a sine qua non, in today’s reality where ready made jobs were dwindling by the day.
He said graduates with the mind set of job creators stood a much better chance of success than those fixated on working for others.
“The need to produce competent graduates imbued with critical thinking and creative thinking skills and other appropriate skill sets and attitude which are fast becoming the minimum expectations for graduates to thrive and succeed in today’s knowledge society can hardly be exaggerated.
“Universities need to engage more meaningfully and intensely with employers of labour and the organised private sector in order to address the much talked about lack of job readiness of the Nigerian universities,” Buhari stated.
The president urged Nigerian universities to intensify their engagement with industry particularly the small and medium scale enterprises which are the drivers and sustainers of the economy.
While acknowledging the good research work being done in some universities, Buhari said there was room for more result-oriented, sector focussed collaborative research dealing with specific aspects of Nigeria’s socio economic and technological challenges and programmes.
He challenged specialised universities to redouble their efforts to demonstrate their relevance by contributing more significantly, through research and innovation towards attainment of specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandate and mission.
“Universities of technology and other specialised universities should seek out and collaborate with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs to create innovation hubs and science and technology parks on their campuses to provide capital scenerios for the promotion and actualisation of the entire gamut of the research and innovation value chain
“The glory days of research for the purpose of publication for citation and so called high impact journals without corresponding demonstrable practical impact on poverty reduction, job creation and national prosperity are numbered,” the president said.