Nigeria’s education policy, which places a high premium on university degrees with less emphasis on technical and vocational education, has been identified as the factor responsible for increasing youth unemployment in the country.
Commissioner for Education in Ekiti State, Mr. Kehinde Ojo, while delivering a keynote address at the annual national conference of the National Association of Teachers of Technology (NATT), held at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, said Nigeria began to experience serious economic challenges when those with technical education were no longer relevant in the economic development of the country.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and National Security Challenges in Nigeria,’ the commissioner noted that 2010 data from the Manpower Board and the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) indicated that Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million, representing about 50 per cent of the total population of the country.
According to him, 64 million of the youths are unemployed, while 1.6 million are under-employed, stating that, the 1990 to 2000 data on youth unemployment revealed that the largest group of the unemployed is the secondary school graduates.
Stressing that youths unemployment has been skyrocketing in Nigeria, Ojo noted that the principal causes of youth unemployment have been classified by several scholars.
“The youths lack the relevant skills required by employers’ as well as for self-employment,” he said.
Tracing the cause of youth unemployment to the public negative attitude towards TVE, which many perceived as education for the low status, the commissioner said those who think acquiring university or tertiary education holds the key to gainful employment, had missed it noting that the situation is also bleak.
“As a matter of fact, a national survey jointly sponsored by National Universities Commission (NUC) and the then Education Trust Fund (ETF) some years ago to determine the labour market needs from 20 reputable organisations, gave damning reports that buttressed an earlier held position that Nigerian university graduates are unemployable.”
Ojo later suggested solutions: “It is important for Nigerian technical institutions to adequately train vocational teachers so that such trained teachers can in turn provide necessary training for technicians who are required for sustenance of manpower and technological development inn the country”.