Technical vocational education training as catalyst for industry 4.0

The latest report from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics put unemployment rate at 23.1% as of Q3 2018, an increase of 23% from 18.8% in Q3 2017.

Technical vocational education training as catalyst for industry 4.0

Under-employment rate was 20.1% while youth unemployment and/or under-employment stood at 43.3%. The high rates of youth unemployment and under-employment has made it imperative for government and private sector stakeholders to adopt far reaching methods and initiatives to create jobs for the young populace. Nigeria has a rare opportunity of a relatively youth population compared with other countries, particularly in Asia. This offers opportunities for industrialization and rapid economic growth arising from availability of labour.

One of the reasons for increasing unemployment rates in Nigeria is the lack of appropriate skills for available jobs. In 2016, the World Bank Skills for Competitiveness and Employability” report examined the demand in priority economic and job growth sectors and how to ensure the right skills are available. In the report, it was observed that, “a transition into more productive employment requires more skills. Nigeria needs to improve basic skills levels”. The report states that some 30 percent of Nigerian youth have not completed more than primary education. Therefore, beyond basic skills, better policies and programs would improve access and market relevance of technical vocational education and training. It is therefore important to implement policies and programs that will equip the bulging youth population with the right skills for available jobs or for self-sustainability.

UNESCO described Technical Vocational Education Training (“TVET”) as concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work. It comprises education, training and skills development relating to a wide range of occupational fields, production, services and livelihoods. TVET, as part of lifelong learning, can take place at secondary, post-secondary and tertiary levels and includes work-based learning and continuing training and professional development which may lead to qualifications.

It includes a wide range of skills development opportunities attuned to national and local contexts which caters to a wide array of topics ranging from STEM focused training for primary and secondary pupils, to artisan training on welding and fabrication, scaffolding, pipe fitting, bricklaying, plumbing, garment making, catering and hospitality, tiling and finishing, mechanic and electrician skills; and more advanced skills on electrical technology, production technology, instrumentation and control technology, power engineering technology, mechatronic, industrial automation and drive technology. It also incorporates topics on business administration, communication and presentation to help Trainees develop entrepreneurial skills.

Similarly, UNESCO identifies education and training as central to the achievement of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. SDG goal 4 requires states to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. It believes that TVET contributes to developing knowledge, skills and competencies of individuals for their employment, careers, livelihoods and lifelong learning. TVET helps individuals to make transitions between education and the world of work, to combine learning and working, to sustain their employability, to make informed choices and to fulfill their aspirations. TVET contributes to social cohesion by enabling individuals to access labour market, livelihood and lifelong learning opportunities.

And as Nigeria prepares to join the rest of the World for Industry 4.0, it has become apparent that the absence of skilled workforce will be a critical bottleneck. In the 20th Century, Technical Colleges were set up across the Country to produce skilled labour in several trades and vocations, or at the minimum, produce employment ready skills for industries. The Colleges also produced quality intakes for Universities and Polytechnics across the Nation.

Lessons from other economies that have experienced rapid growth in industrialization suggest that technical, vocational, and professional skills that require higher cognitive abilities will need to be produced to support Nigeria’s economic growth and development. Implementing TVET schemes require strong financial commitment, Government must take the lead in investing in the schemes to make it attractive for private sector organizations to participate and patronize.

The lack of a comprehensive system for certification of competencies is a key challenge; TVET Centers must be accredited by the Government and issued Certificates benchmarked with existing degrees and awards, to earn the required recognition in the labour market. Education curriculum at secondary and tertiary institutions should be properly aligned to Industry needs; otherwise, it creates a weak linkage between the ‘town’ and ‘gown’.

The availability of competent and qualified trainers is a critical issue; and there needs to be internship opportunities for trainees to demonstrate knowledge and skills during the theory stage of TVET programs. A strong collaboration with industries is required in drafting a curriculum that meets their skill requirements so apprentices will have the industry-required skills.

Germany is known across the world as the leading economy for engineering and technical vocational training. The dual vocational education system as practiced is a parallel training in an enterprise and a vocational school. Siemens has been a major contributor to the success of TVET in Germany. Through the Siemens Professional Education, Siemens provide training for over ten thousands across the world for own needs and customer requirements. Siemens has also gone into cooperation with large Corporate and National Governments to implement TVET programs.

In 2015, Siemens cooperated with Tata in India for the setting up of a training centre. The centre has a yearly intake of 108 trainees. Similarly, as part of the Egypt mega power project, Siemens went into strategic alliance with the Egyptian government resulting into setting up a training centre and rehabilitation of another vocational school. Within a period of 4 years, more than 5,000 trainees would be recorded along major trades.

Siemens is able to support Nigeria replicate these successes through cooperation with the Federal Government and/or reputable industrial conglomerates to produce technically skilled workforce to meet the present and future skill requirements of Industry 4.0 and bring youth unemployment to minimal levels.

Oladayo Orolu

Head, Business Development Siemens Limited

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