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Why aren’t the skills gap trainings in Nigeria creating the desired impact ?

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by The Moderator 16 Comments


Welcome to The Octagon

See the profile of our guests in this Octagon room conversation

The Octagon: Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do? Thank you

Toks: Hi everyone. My name is Toks Adebayo I’m the MD and founding partner of Marina HR solutions – a recruitment and training consultancy focused on Africa.

Rijo: I am Rijo Shekari, a Chartered Accountant. I currently work in financial advisory with an investment firm in Abuja.

Ernest: Ernest Danjuma Enebi. Founder and Managing Partner at Denda – a brand design and growth strategy company helping build and grow Africa owned and focused start ups, small businesses and non-profits.

Paul: Hi everyone my name is Paul Foh CEO Katalyst Consulting.

Gihan: Hi everyone, my name is Gihan Mbelu. Managing Partner of Kainetix Eleven – Business Advisory (Security and Shipping focused). It’s a pleasure meeting.

Bankole: My name is Bankole Williams. I am a management consultant and the founder of LiveYourDreamsAfrica.

Laolu: I am Laolu Alabi, also known as Damilare Baker. I run Damilare Baker Projects, a real Estate Development and Consultancy Firm.  I also run Beyond Ideas limited – a Strategy and Technology firm and I am also the President and founder of eighteento35, an impact organization designed to raise high achievers, super performers and Influential leaders within the 18 –  35 age demography in Nigeria and by extension,  Africa.

Akor: I am Akor Opaluwah. I am brand designer and currently completing my doctorate in International development with a focus on development policies in Nigeria.

The Octagon: The Issue of Unemployment has been in the front burner of discourse in the nation in recent years. Employers of labor often complain that even graduates though professionally or technically qualified are unemployable, in that they lack the requisite, essential skills or competencies needed in the job or for sustainable employment. Nigeria has as a result experienced a rise in skills and skills gap trainings focused to build industry, human capacity and promote economic opportunities. Is there really a skills gap? Why aren’t the skills gap trainings in Nigeria creating the desired impact? Or are they? Does our economy need more young people with professional education or education focused on industrialism or establishing small businesses? Over to you guys!

Rijo: There is absolutely a skills gap. I’ve been privileged to sit on a few panels and it’s quite frightening when you see the quality of ladies and gentlemen our tertiary institutions produce. I’ve worked on multiple teams and many people have little to bring to the table. There is the problem of a poor educational background and lack of exposure, which plagues them till university days. So you find many people that over the years have not been able to develop themselves and acquire skills that meet the requirements of the market or business environment. A contributing factor is the absence of a manufacturing or producing sector. That may have required new skill sets like programming, robotics, and advanced engineering. Millions of unemployed are chasing few jobs in the servicing sector, be it telecoms, banking, insurance or some other.

Bankole: I believe we need to go back to our educational system to discover the root cause. Firstly, we live in a society where the curriculum has not been modified to suite the Time we are in. A number of the courses students study are gradually getting extinct let alone the procedures being taught. It is imperative we begin to collate data that analyzes the current available job roles in comparison with the number of graduates universities churn out for these roles. There is clearly a mismatch.

Toks: Equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of tomorrow is a real concern for Nigeria.

Gihan: I agree that there is a ‘basic skills’ gap in the Nigerian workforce. I use the term ‘basic skill’ because most working class Nigerians are highly qualified on a tertiary level. We have simply skipped the basics of education/work: Diligence, efficiency, honesty and personal growth, hence the gap. I observe that a typical 8hour work day breeds about 2hours in efficiency in Nigeria; whereas in more developed countries where wages are paid by the hour, every minute counts leading to growth in income/economy/society and ultimately build a nation. The issues are more basic than they are curriculum based. Until we use a “charity begins at home” approach to teaching ‘basic skills’ our economy simply cannot and will not grow. We will continue to widen the gaps that have taken away the ideals of real economy.

Ernest: I echo Bankoles point, which is that the gap really starts with the education system. I actually think our model of “teaching the man how to fish” as a solution to the fishing problem might be misguided. Instead we should teach the man how to think, that way he can create solutions to his problems. Very Interesting point Gihan.

Akor: That’s true. There is definitely a skill gap. Not just in the educational system, but between the educational institutions and the industry. There is a real gap in how the two communicate. So institutions just pump out graduates they desire and the industry picks from them rather than the industry stating what they desire and the institutions meeting this requirement.

Rijo: There has to be a sync between our universities and the various industries. The industries set the pace for skill requirements, while universities support with research and innovation.

Bankole: I also believe there are soft and technical skills gaps. We hire expatriates because of the evident gaps e.g in construction and in the oil and gas sectors. How about the basic artisan roles no one is interested. There are job opportunities for some of these roles but graduates are not empowered to take these roles. Also some roles seem somewhat demeaning till an educated man decides to take it up.

The Octagon: We seem to all agree that there is a gap of some sort. Are the gaps popularly identified the ones that need attention? Are the current skills gap trainings creating he desired impact?

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16 Responses

  1. Victor Dollar Kambai says:

    First i would like to thank you for creating this forum. it is indeed going to answer a lot of questions in the minds of people like me.
    i quite agree with Rijo and Bankole. For those of us that were opportune to go to the four corner walls of either the universities, polytechnics, or the mono-technics in Nigeria especially the government institutions will attest to the fact that any student who depends on what the institution has to offer,falls among the category of people Rijo spoke about. They graduate with just the head knowledge and nothing to show forth when it comes to the implementations.

  2. Nkechi says:

    I agree with Bankole.
    The Curriculum for Primary, secondary and tertiary Institutions need to be overhauled.

    I met a former lecturer at African leadership Academy South Africa yesterday, he told me that he’s in Nigeria because The Alumni of Federal Government Umuahia employed him to create a new curriculum for the school.

    I hope more organizations, individuals can do the same.

  3. Nkechi says:

    @Laolu. I completely agree that graduates should be willing to work with little or no pay while they learn the skills they need.

    However, you should consider that it is extremely difficult for some people to have a meal or even pay for transportation in the city.

    We can’t completely blame graduates and we should also not compare them to their counterparts in developed countries.

    Systems need to be put in place to enable them acquire these skills. More organizations should be willing to accept undergraduate/NYSC interns. Higher institutions should make some effort to get internship placements for their students.

    Did you know that the undergraduates who are entitled to some stipends during their SIWES program never get the stipends and when they do, it comes months after the actual time they need it.

    I studied foreign languages at OAU and the program requires that students travel abroad for “a year abroad program” in Germany. What my university offered me was “an equivalent year abroad program” at Goethe institute Lagos. The scholarship stipends given to me and 3 other top students in my class to help with our transportation, feeding, accommodation, tuition and books didn’t get to us till after the program and when it came, we got way less than what the German government had given us.

    So again we cannot completely blame the graduates, A LOT of us are working really hard with the little resources we have. Everything I know now I taught myself through reading and taking online courses.

    This issue runs deeper than we think and to find the solution we must start digging from the educational sector.

    My whole education has been in Nigeria, so trust me when I say that the system is rotten!

    • Laolu Alabi says:

      Hello Nkechi,

      My assertion was for Interns. Thats why I mentioned SIWES & IT. Not necessarily Graduates.

    • Laolu Alabi says:

      For graduates, I understand the need to provide the basics and hence money. But we find that graduates are more interested in the highest paying jobs than the ones where they actually gain the required experience and knowledge. Most of the few who are earning little are probably doing so out of ‘no choice’ and not a deliberate career move.

  4. Nkechi says:

    @Akor Well said! Institutions and organizations can bridge the gap if the Institutions will sit with industry leaders to discuss the skill sets needed for specific jobs and then build their curriculum around them.

    • @Nkechi
      Such communication will actually help in the design of curriculum and courses that the society needs. The distance between academia and the society has and continues to create fault lines which has made education seem distant from the needs of the Nigerian people. It is no wonder the murmurs that state “education is not important” seems to be rumbling though the society.

  5. Sarah A Ogieva says:

    Wow…this is off the hook
    I want to appreciate the Octagon for putting this forum together for me to learn, relearn and unlearn a lot of things. I strongly agree with Bankole, Laolu and Gihan, its so sad to see some graduates don’t even know their core value and they desire to work with high-paying companies. Its true our schools are not helping matters but I think we can start the journey of personal development and the government also have their role to play

  6. Towseen says:

    Great discussion topic. Just to add to the amazing points that have already been mentioned. For the most part, in Nigeria, kids are raised to do as you are told. That is, a child is not really given the opportunity to learn, think, analyze for themselves. This transcends from the home as a child to the education sector and then a professional adult. If an individual isn’t raised and trained to think for themselves or to be analytic or creative, etc. He or she will depend solely on what already exists and will not be willing to venture into new territories/industries. In addition, this affects an individual’s ability to self-reflect to see what areas and skills he/she needs to develop. If your whole life you have been told exactly what to do and you have done with distinction, without having to stop and analyze urself and ur surroundings, you are less likely to do so when u graduate university.

  7. Moyo says:

    This was a really great read. It’s saddening for me that for almost 10 years now I have heard and am still hearing that the Nigerian educational system has failed, yet in those 10 years like sheep to the slaughter I have had to go through secondary and tertiary education hearing this same truth from all the older brilliant minds that I’ve been privileged to come in contact with. We the young ones, the subject of these conversations,
    are aware that as things are, we are in trouble. So my question is: how do we get these brilliant ideas stated here to the ears of the parents, the school boards, the policy makers, the industry captains, the people who can truly translate the ideas into actual and tangible solutions and from whom we can demand implementation?

    • The Moderator says:

      Hi Moyo. Great question and feedback. This platform was designed in such a way to get these people you mentioned aware of the challenges and also guide them on possible solutions. We currently have some policy makers looking at this and honestly hope we can push move them to action.

  8. Tunji Lana says:

    Hi guys, interesting to read the thread of ideas and opinions and a lot of areas have been touched on. if i may just add to the plate…However a combination of factors have to improve not thats its one thing or the other thats the problem.

    Mind sets have to change, the economy has to change, the government has to reflect and represent with people that have a the bigger picture for the nation orientation for real changes take permanence.

    Yes our educational system isn’t great, but isnt that how we trump adversity? by striving to be better against all odds?
    we cant keep talking about the problems (they will never finish) lets put more effort into concrete solutions

  9. Uche Azinge says:

    I must say that I agree with Gihan. I think he is right on the money with his analyses of the root cause of our problem. He didn’t quite put it this way but it’s all down to personal integrity. When this blossoms on an individual level then and only then can it manifest on an institutional level. Not enough individuals posses the desired levels of diligence, honesty, and efficiency that Gihan mentions.

    The solution to our problems is a change in national consciousness. The older generation may be too far gone, but if we can begin to educate our children on the importance of integrity then there will be what can only be described as a miraculous transformation in Nigeria’s state of affairs. Integrity is so important that it should perhaps have its own episode dedicated to it, but i’ll go ahead and buttress my point with a little sermon on integrity.

    Integrity is a word that continues to fascinate me, and over the years the depth of its meaning grows within me. Originally, I understood the definition of integrity as an honest person. Later on, I realized that “integral” and “integrated” are forms of this word and have deeper meanings than just “honest” or “fair.” Our society considers an integrated person to be one who “has it all together” – educated, talented, successful, self-assured, etc.

    To have integrity, or to become integrated persons, means that all parts of our personality are mature and whole, or as much as possible in our human condition. Integrity encompasses our spiritual and moral maturity, our intellectual and cultural growth and training, as well as our emotional and physical well-being. An integrated person has all parts working in harmony with each other while reaching a level of development appropriate to age. Most of us have facets that are not quite in sync with other parts, but we still need continue to strive for the “wholeness” goal.

    My focus is on the younger generation and children though, because they are the future and they are still malleable. The most important part of helping children to become fully integrated human beings is through example. Where children see their parents/guardians/teachers/elders acting in age-appropriate, fully integrated ways, they will follow, for elders especially parents are the children’s greatest heroes.

    So why aren’t the skills gap trainings in Nigeria creating the desired impact? My answer could’ve been this simple; most of us lack integrity.

  10. Kelikume says:

    Well for me, the truth is it basically started from the cradle. There is a conditioning to be what we are not. So, before the overhauling of the education system and other great suggestions; our first point of education is our parents. To tutor us in our giftings and lead us on from there. And then you get to the basic education (Primary and Secondary), your core strengths in different subjects and skills (languages, intro-tech, numbers, words etc). No idea of how to combine and tailor those strengths to the kind of career you should get an education for and build it. The constant struggle of parents, mentorship and culture. “We want a doctor” they say… When you know you are just a sociologist. It is amazing! Old habits die hard, and only the strong can push through, break old habits and build new ones – linking this to breaking fear and learning the required skills. Fear built from childhood … not easily broken. Some people do enjoy and thrive been an employee, while others are entrepreneurs; and there are those that are in-betweeners. We can do it with time though. As things become better and the world gets more connected. Push through adversities. There are MOOCs now, You-Tube is breaking boundaries with the amount of stuff you can learn and build. And there is also the importance of divergence now and understand that our country is peculiar and narrow that peculiarity into our solutions. Our graduates are gradually coming into that, getting the needed skills. It is still in the trickling stage, it will take time but we will get there. Especially when we have people like Mr Kelechi Anyalechi, Mr Bankole Williams, Miss Steph Obi and many others.

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