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What’s the route to success?

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It seems a lot of people, in particular generation from 1988 upward, seem to think the only key to success is tertiary education. As a result, Nigeria had an influx of young person’s flocking to Universities to get a university certificate, studying any course (without a care on what course it was and the functionalities, with the belief that the university certificate would automatically better their lot.

In 1988, the government increased the number of states in Nigeria to 21 from 19 states; a further increase brought the number of States to 36 Thus 36 Universities – each state had to have a university right? With the advent of more states, the government created more universities thereby diluting, downgrading the education system to match the new influx.

Now, the question in 1988 was, did we have enough learned personnel to head and teacher effectively in these new universities? The answer is ‘No.’
Standards were lowered to accommodate the influx.

So, the Influx got into the universities but they came in with faulty foundations; the foundation to build a university programme was missing. A lot of the influx had not gone through continuous schooling, the formal education system (begins in elementary school and continues with secondary school, Post-secondary education (or higher education) usually at a college or university.

The influx to the new Universities were adult learners without the right educational foundation.(Private Candidates) who wanted a ticket to financial freedom and had been told this was the only way.

Those, who wanted inclusion, began spinning the lie that you can only make it if you were educated! This message caused generations to take their eyes and hands of their vocation. People left farming, trading, skilled trade etc to go after tertiary education; a game they couldn’t win as the foundation was wrong.
Now, who does not want to make it?

We created a generation that are willing to pay any price for just a university certificate and universities with lecturers, who were not equipped appropriately to deliver excellence. We created heads, professors and lecturers, who were illiterate themselves and were ready to dish our certificates for favours etc. A monster was created in the Nigerian Education State – uneducated graduates being put in positions to pass on knowledge. Hence, high unemployment, decline in self-employment and innovation.

Despite stubbornly high unemployment, many employers complain that they can’t find qualified candidates for the jobs they do have. Often, it turns out the mismatch results from applicants’ inadequate Employability and communication skills. In survey after survey, employers are complaining about job candidates’ inability to speak and write clearly.

Many skilled workers or artisans, just do not offer good quality products/service. Artisans do not even understand nor have the skill to compete effectively in the market – poorly produced products, bad service, nonchalant attitude of personnel – no vested interest in products or services thereby offering shabby goods/services.

But there are realistic ways to address these issues such as creating free employability skills workshops for the unemployed youth, free business skills training for those wishing to start a new business, free adult vocational skills courses and free apprenticeship/internship placement.

In most countries, there are two types of education; the first teaches one how to live and the other how to earn a living. The first is general education for all individuals and the second is technical or vocational education for those who wish to learn various occupational skills.

Vocational education means hands on learning and training (Ability to Do) and this can be for professions such as business management, human resources, customer service, office administration, music and entertainment, hospitality, engineering, electronics and administration. The changing economic climate and the advancement of technology require an individual to specialise  in a field and through Practice, we knowledge and experience enhance their prospects.

In today’s economy, vocational jobs are becoming more and more important. Therefore, vocational education programs are popular. Vocational education training provides career and technical education to interested students. These students are prepared as trainees for jobs that are based upon manual or practical fields. Jobs are related to specific trades, occupations and vocations.

Here lies the importance of vocational education that is imparted by specialised educational and training institutions, whose mission it is to prepare individuals for the demands ahead and prepare them to become independent experts and deliver their knowledge that they have acquired through various training programs.

We find situations where many people may have the experience but not the qualification or the qualification but no experience, so, this then becomes a catch 22 situation and certain specialised fields lack the right candidate to fit the correct job role.

It is very important to recognise that in today’s economy, vocational skills are becoming more and more important. Therefore, vocational education programs are essential to equip individuals looking to secure good career prospects in particular industries.

Folayemi Olaitan is the CEO 1st CRT Management Services, Lagos


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