Forum Seeks Industry Collaboration for Learning Skills

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Emma Okonji

Participants who attended this year’s e-symposium to commemorate 2021 World Engineering Day, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (NIEEE), have identified the existing gaps between the academia, technology industry players and the government, that have militated the against the development of the right academic skills needed for the labour market.

A University don, Prof. Gloria Chukwuedebe, therefore called for the collaboration between government, academia and industries towards evolving an implementable engineering curricular, tailored towards Nigeria’s peculiar needs for rapid growth and industrialisation.

Chukwuedebe, who is the Dean, School of Computing and Information Technology, Federal University of Technology Owerri, (FUTO), spoke on the theme: ‘Reforming Electrical Engineering Education.’

She said collaboration towards the right skills for manufacturing was important for academic researches to proffer actual practical solutions to societal problems, while stressing the need for collaboration between industry, government and academia.

Chukwudebe added that the collaboration was important for Nigeria to excel in innovation, research and development and to achieve the UN Sustainable Developing Goals (SDGs) and become a self-sufficient nation.
She said manufacturing would become easier when government’s funding for research is increased to enable industries adapt and perfect the works of researchers.

While giving a detailed history of the evolution of engineering from the first generation to the currently debated 5G technology, she said engineers were working silently in various sectors towards transforming lives globally.

The Dean, Faculty of Technology, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olasebikan Fakolujo, said in 2015 over 250,000 graduates relied on formal jobs, which worsened unemployment in Nigeria.

Fakolujo said engineers stepped in and began to create jobs, but changed the narrative for a while as the problem resurfaced in 2018 with unemployment worsening because the engineers slacked.

“The graduate engineer should be innovative to create jobs,’’ he said, adding that engineering education fared well in early years after independence because teachers taught with adequate practical background and industry knowledge.

He said the trend had changed with lecturers teaching with outdated notes that did not meet up with current electrical and electronic training requirements hence, the gap in the curriculum.

He appealed to industries to enforce standards and promote local content, and should not use the industrial training period as a time to send interns on errands instead of equipping them with practical knowledge.

Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Prof. Joseph Odigure, said Nigerian graduates do not fit into the 21st century engineering community because the technological space is evolving.

Odigure, who was represented by Prof. Eyitayo Agfolabi, said Nigerian students could not cope after learning outdated methods, hence the introduction of Outcome Based Education (OBE) by COREN which brings students and industries together.

National Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), Mr. Adeyemi Kings, in his opening remarks said engineering entrepreneurship was important for wealth creation to tackle the economic challenges of COVID-19.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen engineering design education, which is significant component of undergraduate engineering education. This is critical for long term development and ripple into economic development,’’ he said.