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PMI urges accelerated digital adoption by tertiary education

PMI, New Horizons forge partnership to boost youth employability in Nigeria

Project Management Institute (PMI) has reiterated the need for tertiary institutions to accelerate digital adoption for massive skill shifts.

The Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Project Management Institute, George Asamani stated this in a paper entitled ‘Reimagining Higher Education in Nigeria”.

Asamani said that “By some estimates, the pandemic accelerated digital adoption by five years. This “digitalisation at scale and velocity” results in massive skill shifts”.

He said “ Data from Gartner TalentNeuron shows an outsized number of techies being hired outside of IT. That trend is only likely to accelerate further as organisations demand digital skills far beyond the IT function and deep into other areas of the business.”

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According to him , Higher or tertiary education, like all sectors, is fair game for disruption. “We saw a glimpse in the pandemic, where classes were held online, and courseware unbundled from college staples like libraries and cafeterias was delivered directly to devices. Overnight, technology automated the traditional lecture, and logic supports the argument that anything that can be automated will be disrupted. As memories of the tumultuous time fade two years on, remote learning is everything, everywhere, all at once. “

Nigerian tertiary institutions have played a key role in framing national consciousness and identity. They have also played a pivotal role in advancing the economy by delivering skills that saw the country and companies gain dominance on the continent. For decades, they met the demands of the era, but their agility has now come under deep scrutiny at a time when profound change is sweeping through society.

The PMI boss further stated that the student- loan bill passed at the end of last year in Nigeria has divided opinion, with concerns that the lack of employment opportunities could leave students debt-ridden like in the US. Collective student debt in the US has risen to over $1.7 trillion, surpassing auto loans and credit card debt.

Therefore, universities, according to him remain the pinnacle of academic achievement, but alternatives are fast emerging in credentialing and certifications. There is a growing chorus of voices that want universities to accelerate the process of updating their curriculum. Leadership skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and tech savviness are emerging as par for the course, but universities have been apathetic toward them.

In a landscape where a virus or a war can fundamentally alter the course of your business, executives are sceptical that universities can deliver the right people with 21st-century skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

Another big challenge credentials and certifications address is job readiness. According to the African Center for Economic Transformation, almost 50% of African university graduates do not get jobs. Economists refer to this as structural unemployment, unemployment caused by a mismatch of skills workers can offer versus the skills required by industry. While the number of graduates keeps rising, over 300,000 annually in Nigeria, there is a consensus amongst employers that university qualifications translate poorly in the new world of work. Amongst those employed, a large portion end in careers not aligned with their education.

Credentials and certifications are entering the mainstream because they meet the genuine needs of the industry, he said.