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Nigerian engineers and other industry operatives have enjoined governments at all levels to re-establish trade centres in all states of the federation to halt the outsourcing of skilled craftsmen from Benin Republic, Cotonu and other African nations.

They kicked against the conversion of trade centres to technical colleges saying that the step has hampered formal training for craftsmen. Currently, construction firms relied heavily on tradesmen from the neighbouring West African countries for local jobs, while the unemployment rate continued to soar because of concerns over the quality of available skilled tradesman in the sector.

They also called for the establishment of industrial hubs across the country to absorb trained tradesmen to further hone their skills and make them at par with their international counter pacts.

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Leading the call at lecture organized by the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, the Dean, Faculty of Engineering at the University of Lagos, Prof. Funso Falade said such initiative would boost engineering education for sustainable development in Nigeria.Falade declared that there must be a deliberate policy by the government that industry should focus on the use of locally developed technology/materials for the provision of engineering infrastructure.

He advised that the curricula should be reviewed to include adequate provision for humanities, social sciences, business management concepts that together provide the necessary soft skills to complement hard skills acquired from the various engineering disciplines.“The much-needed development in Nigeria can only be achieved if governments at all level challenge indigenous engineers, through adequate patronage and provision of enabling environment for them to innovate. The curricula of engineering programme in the training institution should be responsive to the needs of the industry. Entrepreneurship skills development should be included.

The engineering and technology educators are encouraged to use innovative pedagogical methods that put the students at centre of learning. These methods include project-based learning, problem-based learning, team-based learning, collaborative, e-learning. While the proposed one-year Internship programme for engineering graduates should be funded by Government. “

He stated that engineers, both in academics and practice should work together as a team to innovate with a view to developing innovative solutions to societal problems in sustainable ways as the challenges comforting humanity require teamwork for appropriate solutions. Prof. Falade advocated a tripartite funding system involving the government, industry and the university to ensure the provision of adequate funding for the facilities and human resources required for quality engineering training and research.

According to him, engineering is key for economic growth and the strongest pillar in eradicating poverty and uplifting the standard of living in any nation; therefore, if government is committed to alleviating poverty, the first step is to challenge engineers to come up with a blue print on how to eradicate poverty on our land.

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The Chief Executive officer, OPL Academy, Oare Ehiemua also called for creation of more opportunities for Nigerian youth, who are hungry for new experiences and opportunity to excel in their endeavours.

To her, there is need for government to partner organisations involved in skilled development to ensure that greater number of jobless youths are empowered, stressing that the 100 tradesmen, who benefited under the TEP programme is like a drop in the ocean.She called for creation of industrial hubs, where skilled tradesmen can operate since a lot of them are entrepreneurs, who only needed a support to thrive.

Ehiemua, who spoke to The Guardian at the sideline of the graduation of 21 Carpenters trained by One Precious Life (OPL) Academy in Lagos, said government should support initiatives geared towards development of artisans’ skills in the country.Also, Mr. Paul Okaom, a staff of Robert Bosch Nigeria said the creation of industrial hubs would solve the dearth of skilled tradesmen, stressing that they are a lot of skilled and knowledgeable carpenters, who are looking for opportunity to showcase their skills.

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Funso Falade
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