The director-general of the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Prof. Okechukwu Ukwuoma, has identified Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) as a veritable instrument that can be deployed to systemically lift Nigeria’s teeming populace out of unemployment.
Delivering his address at the just concluded national workshop themed “Revitalizing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for National Development” in Enugu, he said the main objectives of the workshop revolved around finding a way past the challenges bedevilling TVET in Nigeria and arriving at holistic and sustainable solutions; and to provide a platform for networking, linkages and collaboration among TVET stakeholders and practitioners.
The NACETEM boss said the agency is continuously beaming its searchlight on technical and vocational education as a deliberate and calculated attempt at complementing the efforts of the Federal Government in creating wealth and providing gainful employment.
“As part of our intentionality about deploying technical and vocational education to ameliorate unemployment in the country, NACETEM, as an agency of government has, in the last six months, organised similar workshops at the southwest, specifically in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“This shows our deliberateness in reaching out to all the six geopolitical zones of the country in revamping technical and vocational education in Nigeria, as there is no substitute to skills’ acquisition in achieving sustainable development. Today, it is the turn of the southeast and nearby zones to see how pivotal TVET is to creating wealth and gainful employment in the country. Let me make it clear here that no part of the country will be left out in ensuring that TVET takes its place of pride in the drive towards sustainable development,” he said.
Earlier in her welcome address, the zonal coordinator, NACETEM, southwestern zonal office, Lagos, Mrs. MaryAnne Onyejekwe, pointed out that Nigeria’s economy is fraught with several challenges, including high youth unemployment, excessive dependence on crude oil, trades imbalance in favour of imports and general avoidance of locally made products.
According to her, a major challenge for Nigeria is the development of her capacity to learn, adapt to and diffuse existing new knowledge and technologies.
She added that it is critical to train and re-train local manpower to fully participate and adequately execute projects and contracts in the country, stressing that Nigerians must be able to do whatever needs to be done to contribute to the development of local content.
“TVET offers a leeway for industrialisation, transiting from a consumer to a producer state. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is a critical element of basic education that can educate and create jobs for our teeming youths. It is a well-placed strategy for equipping our population with practical, modern, occupational and skill-based capacities. This will go a long way in helping the country create jobs, grow local industries, enhance science, technology and innovation (STI), conserve foreign reserves, encourage SMEs and improve domestic income streams,” she added.
In his remarks, the commissioner, Enugu State Ministry of Science and Technology, Sir Obi Kama, opined that the unemployment menace in Nigeria is solvable through science and technology education.
“The solution now is to get abreast with the technical and vocational training varieties available in contemporary technical and vocational skills’ acquisition programmes. This is the way to go in salvaging the youths from mass unemployment. This is achievable with a review of our existing curriculum in schools, towards emphasising the inculcating of these trades and skills for self-reliance,” he stated.
He expressed the hope that the workshop would interrogate the identified challenges and experiences across the board and emphasize areas of improvement, to redirect the mind of participants to the best practices possible, adding that stakeholders will then find probable solutions and ways of moving ahead from the country’s current position.