The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, has challenged the NUC Skills Development Advisory Committee to develop a curriculum for Entrepreneurship Education and Skills Development that would be used by the Nigerian University System (NUS).
Inaugurating a nine-member NUC Advisory Committee on Skills Development in the Nigerian University System (NUS) last Wednesday, Professor Rasheed noted that skills were core to improving employment outcomes and increasing productivity, adding that for a country like Nigeria, with about 17.6 million unemployed and underemployed youths, urgent action were required to develop local skills to engage the youths.
He said that a close look at the formal and informal sectors in Nigeria showed that low, medium and high-level skilled manpower were imported from neighbouring African countries. He observed that in the construction industry, foreigners were brought to do the jobs that Nigerians could conveniently do. Some of these skills, he narrated, included undersea and surface welding, automobile maintenance, among others.
The NUC Scribe lamented that, even within the middle level industrial skills, Nigerian elites resorted to bringing in artisans from neighbouring West African countries to do simple tasks like block moulding, masonry and tiling. This, he said, was mainly because these skills were not readily available in Nigeria. He stated that the recommendations of the Committee would play a key role in NUC soliciting for World Bank intervention and also give room for the establishment of a Directorate of Skills and Entrepreneurship in the NUC.
On the importance of the Committee’s job, the executive secretary recalled that one of the goals of the Commission included matching graduate output with the national manpower needs. The Commission, he stated, recognized the need to focus on improving access and quality as well as deepening the labour market responsiveness of skills development for Nigerian Universities.
He called for the development of a balanced skills development system combining specialised and high level skills needs at the university level. He further expressed the need for technical and vocational skills with foundational learning, to address skills shortages in the economy at all qualification levels in a comprehensive and integrated manner including adult literacy.
Professor Rasheed highlighted that the critical technical skills needed for the development of the country were grossly lacking, despite huge population revealed.
He indicated that Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) programme were mostly in Arts and Humanities with a negligible percentage in the sciences, expressing fear that no country had made significant progress without investing in science and technology.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technology Education (NBTE), Dr. Masmud Kazaure, said that National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) was conceived as a system for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge, understanding and competencies acquired by individuals, irrespective of where and how the training or skill was acquired. He stated that the system made a clear statement on what the learner must know or be able to do whether the learning took place in a classroom, on –the-job, or less formally.
He highlighted the objectives of NSQF to include:
• Ensuring the quality, status, relevance and provision availability of TVETs
• Complexity and ambiguity of selecting a competent person by industry is reduced.
• Narrowing the gaps between what TVET graduates know and can do as well as the skills and knowledge requirements of employers.
On the benefits, Dr. Kazaure stated that candidates would be helped to gain up-to-date nationally recognized qualification, which would guarantee confidence in their ability to fit into job role specific to their level. On completion, the skills learnt and benefits gained by the individual would boost in their job role performance and understanding, thereby translating into more productive and efficient work force capable of generating other benefits.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Professor Olufemi Bamiro, thanked the Executive Secretary for reposing such high level of confidence in the team, promising that they would do their best to deliver on their assigned task.
Others in the committee were: Engineer Suleiman; Professor Y.A Adeniran; Professor Valentine Ekechukwu; Professor Peter Onwualu; Dr. Ezinne Nwadinobi; Dr. Yakubu Aliyu; and Dr. Joshua Atah as well as Mr. Obiechefu Ukwuagu representing NUC.