The Executive Secretary (ES), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof. Idris M. Bugaje, has identified ASUU and ASUP strikes, outdated curricula, non-skill contents to be the major challenges militating against educational development in Nigeria.

The ES who made the observation while delivering convocation lecture at the 10th Combined Convocation of the Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa (FEPONAS) in Nasarawa State which held recently emphasised the kind of training
to be provided in order to guarantee the future of Nigerian youths in the “4th Industrial Revolution (IR) global environment.

He said, “This paper is attempting to analyse the future of the Nigerian youths in a 4th IR global ervirenment and what kind of training we must provide to meet up to these challenges.

“Today, tertiary education in Nigeria is facing herculean trials from ASUU/ASUP strikes to out-dated curricula full of theories with little hands on skills contents, producing job seekers instead of job creators, an army of unemployed and unemployable bunch many ending up fueling the banditry and insecurity in the nation (the only growing industry today!). A paradigm shift from paper qualifications to skills is therefore imminent.”

According to Bugaje, the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy with a GDP of about USD432 Billion, a population that is almost 20 percent of Africa’s and 60 percent of ECOWAS, majority of whom are youths that are largely unemployed, expected to become the third largest country in the globe in the next 28 years, after China and India.definitely means Nigeria must re-invent itself to take up the enormous responsibilities ahead and give hope to its youths by making them productive.

He stressed that the productivity can only be achieved by turning around the educational system, both tertiary and sub-tertiary levels, with greater focus on skills, both hard and soft.

Reminding the audience that the world had recently entered the 4″ Industrial Revolution (IR), around 2015, after the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Prof. Bugaje said the Third Industrial Revolution (IR) began in the 1950s with the development of digital systems, digital communication and rapid advances in computing power, which had enabled new ways of generating, processing and sharing information.

Quoting Wikipedia, he said, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution started recently, approximately 2015, and it can be described as the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technologies, Artificial Intelligence (Al), large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M), and the internet of things (loT). This integration results in greater automation, further improvement in communication, and the use of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.

The NBTE chief executive officer stressed the need to focus attention on Technical and Vocational Education.

“The term ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training’ (TVET) was adapted

Officially at the World Congress on Technical Education held in 1999 in Seoul, South Korea, to represent this vital system of education which stands parallel to the University system and the two complimenting each other. It is no doubt the bedrock of technological, industrial, and economic development of any nation.

“TVET equips! people with wide variety o skills, attitudes and knowledge for active and meaningful participation in work and social environments. Like other countries of the world, TVET in Nigeria is meant to produce skilled manpower for the industrial and econornic activities of the country.

“In this third decade of the 21st Century, the word ‘middle-level’ is discarded in describing TVET manpower, blue and white collars are also merged, what we now have is a ‘new collar’ where skills are central and paper qualifications taking a back seat.”

He said NBTE in realising the importance of skills development to the Nigerian economy, is currently engaged in well-coordinated advocacy and enlightenment campaigns across the country from its Headquarters and through the newly established six Zonal Offices on the realisation of the value of skills in its training programmes.

“In order to encourage Polytechnics to drive this vision for Sskilis development, it is expected that all Polytechnics should establish Skills Development Centres (either as stand-alone or jointly with Entrepreneurship Development Centres) to train, assess and certify learners in relevant skills areas by 2023.
“It is not enough to run GENS courses in entrepreneurship, but learners should be certified in at least one skill set under the Nigeria Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).

“Furthermore, we are supporting the development of National Occupational Standards (NOSs) in emerging and highly demanding skills needed by Nigerian industries to provide our youths with opportunities to fill job vacancies both at home and abroad in projects such as the AKK gas pipeline, the 3050MW Mambila Power Project, Oi] and Petrochemical Industries in Lekki and elsewhere in the country, the recently approved and upcoming Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline from Nigeria to Morocco, etc.

“The Board is also encouraging TVET Institutions, with Federal Polytechnics in the forefront, to collaborate with Nigerian Industries and also form strategic partnership with top performing Institutions in countries like Morocco, South Africa, China and India to improve Skills Development and create employment opportunities for Nigerian youths,” he said, adding that the Board had also commenced digitalisation of its Quality Assurance activities to meet global! best practices and reduce cost on the Polytechnics.

He noted that there are two types of skills that need to be pursued, hard skills (digital literacy and hands) and soft skills (attitude, flexibility, motivation, and manners).

“The hands-on hard skills are all covered under the Nigerian Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). Employers need digitally literate graduates who can create, collaborate, and communicate in modern ways to define and fill these new roles.

“It begins with lecturers leading the way and teaching digital literacy skills in the curriculum. A hard skill for a welder, for example, might be the ability to operate the welding machine or use tools in cutting metals. A soft skill would be the ability of the welder to communicate effectively with coworkers and clients.


On how to equip Nigerian youths in skills acquisition for the 4th IR, the professor recommended learning-on-the job apprenticeship, adding that there is need for Polytechnics to have MoUs with industries where the trainees shall be further trained and assessed.

“One area where we must give attention to are ICT skills, which include web application development, Mobile application development, Digital service operations, computer hardware maintenance, GSM repairs, etc for which we all have National Occupational Standards ( NOSs).

“Our youths must be exposed to these training programs to participate in the large outsourcing market available across the globe. India is leading in this employment globally and Nigeria must move to take its rightful place. Other ICT subcontracted jobs are running into huge multi-billion US dollar per annum businesses and we should not lose out.

“Our youths should be given the opportunity through ICT skills training to join in this. Polytechnic and even University graduates of whatever background should be encouraged to come to our Polytechnics and partake in these NSQ skills training,” he explained.

He stated that there is an urgent need to train some of the staff of TVET institutions to become Quality Assurance Assessors and Verifiers to enable polytechnics key into skills training and save Nigeria from importation of skills from Francophone West Africa, China and India.

“Staff training in industry including sabbaticals must be revived by all Polytechnics. This is the window to create the much needed collaboration as well as research and development engagement with the Industry,” he said, disclosing that NBTE had already written the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to facilitate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to allow polytechnic lecturers/technologists spend time in industries for hands-on-training.

“BTE has also gotten Ministerial approval for the Nigerian Youths Skills Empowerment (NYSE) Scheme, which will enable NSQ certified graduates to be facilitated to fill up the huge skill gaps in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. Post COVID-19, many countries outside Africa have lost huge manpower creating wide skill gaps. If Nigeria doesn’t seize on these opportunities, the Asians may end up filling up those gaps.

“Polytechnics must create the opportunity for the teeming youths to undertake skills training, get certified and be outbound to Europe, Middle East and the North American continent, being welcomed with red carpets in those countries,” he advised.

He further advised that the modest achievements made in ICT Skills in Nigeria (especially in Lagos) must be expanded to other skill areas.

“Enough of the dominance of Francophone skilled workers in our construction industries right here in Abuja, enough of importation of welders and other industrial skills from India and China for the AKK gas pipelines and Lekki oil refining and petrochemical complexes, enough of imported skilled labour just for laying out rail tracks, etc. Our Polytechnics must sit up and come to the rescue of the nation by offering these NSQ trainings and give hope to the resilient Nigerian youths, whose hope for a bright future has been diminishing over the past years,” he said.

According to him, the challenge of unemployment and underemployment can best be resolved by rolling out hands-on skills training for Nigeria youths, especially with globalisation in this 4″ IR age where services are trans-border, the world becoming one village.

“Let’s put an end to Nigerian youths taking risks across the Sahara, ending up in Libya, crossing the Mediterranean at greater risks, many losing their lives and the few survivors ending up in Lampedusa (Southern Italy) as rejected and dejected refugees.

“This narrative must be changed by embracing skills training by Nigerian Polytechnics, creating our own ‘Dual System’ (as in German TVET) whereby Diploma holders also have an NSQ Qualification giving them a double edge sword to guide their future in the turbulent waters of the labour market.

“The Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa should lead in this transformation and lam confident this is do-able under the present Governing Council and management,” he concluded.

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