• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Gown, town integration will curb Nigeria’s unskilled graduates, poverty—Experts

Unskilled graduates

Experts have made cases for industries, and institutions’ partnership to address skills mismatch, and produce competent graduates in the face of the global talent market undergoing unprecedented shifts influenced by technology, socio-economic changes, and among others.

Education experts disclosed that the synergy between gown and town has not been fully realised within the Nigerian tertiary education system, hence, the surging number of workplace skills-mismatch graduates.

“The universities are training graduates who are not matching the needs of the industries, and there is the need for a paradigm shift because the present university system has failed the industrial sector,” they say.

Izu Nwachukwu, a senior lecturer, at the University of Calgary, Canada glared at this system of education in Nigeria which he described as outdated, and advocated for a competence-based system of education, especially at the tertiary level.

“The purpose and aim of education when it was first brought in 1842 by the missionaries has since changed.

The 21st-century education is competence-based, where students learn to master their chosen careers through learning by practice system,” he said.

Kingsley Moghalu, president of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation said Nigerian tertiary education particularly needs to foster integration between academia and the industry.

“While academia is traditionally expected to serve as a supplier of human capital and a catalyst for research-based innovation in industries, this synergy has not been fully realised within the Nigerian tertiary education system,” he said.

Besides, he disclosed that the challenges of erosion of education quality, which results in insufficient human capacity-building stems from inadequate access to and quality of education.

“These challenges include the disconnect between academia and industry, diminishing socio-emotional attachment to education among young individuals, rising unemployment rates, and the issue of unemployability.

“The main purpose of education is to provide the opportunity for acquiring knowledge and skills that will enable people to develop their full potential and become successful members of society,” he said.

Moghalu reiterated that investing in education, training, research and development, and supportive policies can help develop a skilled workforce equipped to drive innovation, create value, and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Students in higher education often have limited exposure to the professional world, and the curriculum tends to prioritise academic theory over the development of practical skills required in the modern world of work.

Experts believe it is pertinent that skill development becomes a core objective of education for Nigeria to position itself as a competitive player in the global economy and achieve sustainable economic transformation.

Remi Alatise, senior lecturer at Fountain University, Osogbo maintained that Nigeria needs a system of education where the curriculum is tailored to meet the contemporary needs of the society.

“The essence of education itself is to solve personal and societal problems. Any educational system that cannot guarantee these is dysfunctional,” he said.

Quality education has been the backbone of development in countries of the world because it boosts both economic and social development as nations agree that the way out of issues that plague individual countries and their citizens is through quality education.

Nigerian Tertiary Education particularly needs to foster integration between academia and the industry. While academia is traditionally expected to serve as a supplier of human capital and a catalyst for research-based innovation in industries, this synergy has not been fully realised within the Nigerian tertiary education system.

Folasade Ogunsola, the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos, speaking on the need for gown-town collaboration, said the university introduced the Innovation Incubator programme –tagged ‘Innovation to Market’ (I-2-M) which according to her is funded by the UKRI and has onboarded several innovators from across the country and trained them on skills and techniques to develop their innovation.

“Through this programme, we were able to onboard 524 innovators, 62 were funded to develop prototypes, and18 patents were filed, 40 new start-ups were registered, and 50 start-up businesses were incubated while 20 start-ups were awarded financial grants,” she said.

Aliko Dangote, chief executive officer of Dangote Group earlier called on schools to lay the foundations to bridge the skills gap in the country because the majority of those entering the workforce lack the skills required to meet the changing needs of the global economy.

“Up to 20 million, increasingly well-educated young people are set to join Africa’s labour force every year for the coming three decades. Ensuring we have a strong ecosystem to offer quality jobs, and the skills to match will be imperative if we are to fully leverage this demographic dividend,” he said.

According to the Nigeria Country Diagnostic Note (CDN)  2023 by the African Development Bank (AfDB), not less than 34.3 per cent of Nigerian workers, aged 15 and older, are working poor, living below the poverty line despite being employed.

These people are trapped in poverty due to low-skilled and the consequent low-wage jobs.