Arc. Sonny Echono-FNIA

The  Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, has urged education stakeholders to come together to address the challenges of graduate employment suitability in the country. The permanent secretary made the remark at a two-day Technical Workshop on Skills Gap Assessment in Tertiary Institutions yesterday  in Abuja.

He said the workshop with the theme: “Bridging the Skills Gap of Tertiary Education Graduates in Nigeria”, was aimed at bringing together education stakeholders to address the challenges of graduate employment suitability in the country.

Echono said the World Economic Forum (WEF) has predicted that by 2030, new jobs would replace traditional jobs, as the country moves toward the Fourth industrial revolution.

He said that the workplace would be transformed and digitalised by 2030; and as such required different skill-set to tackle.

He said that the Federal Government, through the ministry, had taken bold steps over the years to tackle the challenges of the Nigerian education system, to make graduates globally competitive.

According to him, by 2030, the top 10 skills required for future workers, as reported by the (WEF), are complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management and coordinating with others.

“Others are emotional intelligence, judgment and decision-making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility.

“As we move toward the fourth industrial revolution, it will, therefore, be insane to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

Echono said that in a bid to close the skills gap, the government had earmarked on N1.3 trillion for special intervention in Nigerian public universities for over six years, between 2013 and 2019.

The permanent secretary said that N220 billion, out of this amount, had been released and disbursed to public-owned universities based on their peculiar needs.

“Another far-reaching progress made to close the skills gap and produce a workforce that is skilled, efficient, highly mobile, adaptable and innovative is the institutionalisation of the Nigerian Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) in 2018.

“The framework developed by the  NBTE for promoting Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Nigeria identified obvious skills gap in the educational system, which has caused graduates not to be competitive in the global market place.”

He said the education system of any country is very strategic and sensitive to be treated like any other sector. According to him, the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals would be a mirage, if not hinged on solid education system.

Echono called on development partners and the organised labour to end the relative skills gap in the education system, as this was unacceptable for our children, and as well unsustainable for our democracy.

Earlier, the Director, Tertiary Education in the ministry, Joel Ojo, highlighted the importance of partnership, to generate far-reaching resolutions that would be of benefit to our future graduates.

Ojo called on all stakeholders in all sectors of the economy to correct the anomaly of skills gap.

“At the end of this workshop, an instrument will be developed and drawn to actually inquire into the prevailing needs in respect of the present skills gap.

“We would come up with a realistic road-map, to put an end to the challenge in tertiary education sector.

Dr Tunde Adekola from the World Bank said it was time a resolution was made, that would support tertiary education in skills development. Adekola called on the government at all levels to support post-basic education, noting that this was where the issues of skills gap lied, and must urgently be addressed.

He said that private sectors should also be a strong player in addressing the gaps.

“It is time we know the demand gap assessment and the market assessment, which means we must know the number of people we need, to fill up the market.

“Therefore, institutions should be strengthened to address the gap. They should be able to remedy the situation when they are still in the university.

“They need to train those who are already in the system, to meet the demand of the labour market.’’

Adekola called on Non-Governmental Organisation, Federal, State and Local Governments and other arms of government, to form coalition to address the skills gap in our tertiary institutions.

SOURCEOgochi Ndubuisi
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