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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

Akor: I don’t think so. There needs to be a clear distinction in the type of skills that we create. Most especially, the difference between polytechnics and universities – Their different functions over the years have been blended into each other. Now polytechnic graduates desire university graduate jobs, when none should think of the other as more important. This problem though can be traced to the industry that does not distinguish between the skills necessary, and emphasize on who should take these roles.

Gihan: I don’t know that there is currently a public skill gap training, unless within organizations.  Orientation is definitely important to building basic with ethic. Your skill must be matched with good ethics.

Ernest: I think they are starting to create the impact desired. The pace is just not keeping up with the problem. For instance the government has identified 4 sectors in which to focus its skills training – ICT and Digital Jobs, agriculture, Construction and Wholesale and retail. The problem is even if you reach full capacity (which will take some time) in the training in these sectors you still have a huge gap in job creation, which then overshadows whatever gains are being made.

Bankole: I believe the word “skill” is very broad. There are soft and technical skills. These two have to be addressed right from institutions of higher learning. However there seems to be more emphasis in the theory of technical skills which do not apply to every day problems faced in society.

Laolu: I believe that the problem is not the lack of degrees but the lack of education. Closely linked to this, I also believe that the problem especially in Nigeria is actually more of a diligence, discipline and Contentment problem. It’s a mentality problem and very vast in this generation. Young people these days are increasingly ‘mental’. Nigeria only happens to show this problem more because of the seeming more limited opportunities in the formal sector here than there is in other parts of the world. By diligence and discipline, I mean, we hardly have young people who are willing after their basic degrees, to actually volunteer with little or no pay to gain the required ‘skill and knowledge’.  Our internship programs are simply nowhere to be found. Even on internships that we call ‘SIWES’ and ‘IT’, young individuals are more concerned with looking for postings in large organizations where they can immediately earn something good with little or no experience. Nowhere in the world do fresh graduates have the required practical skill sets.  The difference however is that their internship programs are very dynamic and efficient and people are willing to actually learn and go through what it takes.

Gihan: Nigerians are ‘paper educated’, we brandish degrees like they are badges of honor. This also is wrong societal orientation. We live in a society where we don’t understand the difference between using what you have to create success and showing what you have to appear successful. A McDonalds line manager knows more about churning out efficient burger numbers and increasing profitability more than a Masters degree graduate in Nigeria knows about producing his product more efficiently to reach wider markets. The gap is basic orientation. Nigerians have the tools but we don’t know how to use it. As an employer myself, I weep at the efficiency of our workforce in Nigeria. I feel it has created a lazy generation and a failing economy. An economy/business is built with hard work, many moving parts. I don’t see the movement and people still get paid to work at 20% capacity. There is a major issue here and fixing it is a ‘journey of a thousand miles’.

Toks: The country simply does not have enough jobs to go around. Education and Skills development should be the primary focus for government. We need Nigerian students to study what the country needs, not them studying what we don’t need. For example opportunities in the mining sector are untapped but how many students are studying for mining degrees? How many of our universities are offering these courses? We need to start planning for the future and developing skills in the areas that can grow the country.

Bankole: I also believe strongly that we need to move from an EMPLOYMENT based society to a DEPLOYMENT based society. We are conditioned to look for jobs when we get out of school. There Is very little emphasis on enterprise development as opposed to employment. The average graduate seeks to get a job but like Toks mentioned there are not enough jobs. We need more basic skills acquisition intiatives, we Need to grow the small and medium scale business sector. Some societies in Asia are conditioned to set up businesses. That’s why a Lebanese man can move to Nigeria to set a business on my street. What he is looking for by virtue of his education is totally different from what the average graduate seeks.

Laolu: I also believe that Technical skill Like Bankole alluded to has to be repackaged and impact organizations in partnership with the government need to champion this.  Everyone wants a white Collar Job. No one wants to be a plumber. Some of the best mechanics I know have degrees. But our young people all want to wear suits and sit behind a desk. That’s where ‘self worth’ comes from. The suit gives more young people ‘self confidence’ than ‘purpose’ does. So we have a ‘born mechanic’ vying for the job of a ‘teller’ and we expect that there won’t be a seeming skill gap. Again, We have a mental problem! We need to create more campaigns targeting young individuals in high school. Our Guidance and counselling departments in secondary schools have been reduced to where a student is taken when he/she misbehaves!

Ernest: Gihan’s point about the McDonalds manager knowing more about logistics and efficiency raises yet another question which is what is the role of society in skills training. If society prizes politicians and contracts, as opposed to the US that prizes the factory worker and the line manager, those skills begin to diminish. And so what you see is a society that has neglected over the decades the hard worker. While we talk about skills as an important factor we also need to make sure we have people who are willing to do the dirty work. Implementers. We are building a generation of strategists with no one to implement. Which is why we’re one of the smartest countries on the planet and one of the poorest.

The Octagon: Will incentivizing help solve these issues that Gihan, bankole, Laolu and Akor have raised? How do we even start this “journey of a thousand miles”

Ernest: We need to incentivize schools and universities that train and equip young adults with skills to succeed. In most advanced countries a huge metric in assessing Universities and Polytechnics is the percentage of their graduates that land full time jobs. If we can start to do that it might encourage schools to over perform. And maybe share best practices from institutions like Yaba Tech which repeatedly comes up as a model for schools producing outstanding graduates.

Gihan: I have to reiterate that in my opinion it’s a basic orientation issue. And Ernest hit the nail on the head with the “generation of strategist with no one to implement”. We as Nigerians have a false sense of achievement. If you give a lazy man a Ph.D, he remains a LAZY MAN with a Ph.D.  We have grown in a society where a man doesn’t build a life ‘block by block’ and this has been the orientation of a generation. Until we change our value system, we can’t see real change in efficiently and result. The banker steals money and build a mansion, the cleaner sweeps dust under your carpet; on every level of employment it evident that there are orientation flaws. The gap is a simple mindset and takes a lot to fix.

Laolu: As Bankole mentioned, we need Data to prove some of this issues. We need to know how many graduates leave University every year, we need to know the ‘degree split’. Which industry seems to have more graduates, we need to know how many are working with what they studied,  we need to know how many studied what they wanted. But the issue of Data is another big problem in this our society. If the moderator allows me, I will post a short write up I did on the ‘Data gap’.  I’m sure we all would identify with it.

Bankole: Laolu you are right, can we start with collating data? Can we start with knowing what the numbers are and how critical these issues are? Could this our growing youth bulge be a huge risk that we are underestimating. I heard the average age in Nigeria is 18! We need to start re-orienting the youth before they take to the streets

Akor: I don’t agree with the notion that people need to start businesses. Or better yet, I partially disagree with it. There is evidence that societies that have a disproportionate amount of ‘entrepreneurs’ are not economically strong. There is need for a very conscious balance.  Also the reason people would not want to be plumbers is because we are not really willing to pay a plumber a living wage. If I study plumbing at a University (or rightly, a polytechnic ) would anyone be willing to pay be the rates a I deserve? This skill gap we are complaining about in inadvertently and partially caused by our unwillingness to pay for the service we claim to desire.

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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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