By Peter Osalor
As the Roman Historian, Plutarch (AD 46-120?) had noted “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” Given their corrupt and greedy lifestyles Nigeria’s leaders do not seem to care about integrity or moral values. They are good at predicting the future without creating it. As Peter Drucker has observed “If you want to predict the future, create it.”
In Nigeria, the growing problem of unemployment in the country has contributed largely to the worsening problem of poverty among the populace. Unemployment according to Olaitan (1996) leads to frustration and disillusionment which may result in crime or drug abuse in a futile attempt to escape from and forget the pains and humiliation of poverty and lack.
The problem of unemployment, he further stated, has worsened as millions of school leavers and graduates of tertiary institutions have not secured gainful employment over the years. Unemployment has posed a serious problem not only to the welfare of individuals but also to that of their families.
Many able bodied and highly qualified persons who could not secure gainful employment have remained economically dependent on their parents. This is because they lack the necessary occupational skills to be self employed and to effectively function in today’s world of work.
These occupational skills can be provided by technical and vocational education. According to Abdulahi (1994) technical education is that aspect of education that involves the acquisition of techniques and application of the knowledge of the science for the improvement of man’s surrounding.
Technical and vocational education prepares one for the world of work with which the individual become reliant and can make contributions to the development of the society. As employers look for new talents every year from new graduates, it is important to not only have a solid education but graduates that have features that stand out from the rest of the graduating students.
With the economy being more globalized than ever, it is important to have a background and a skill set that allows graduates to become immersed in the global economy right from graduation (Cote, 2007). It is important for these students or graduates to have skills in innovation in technology education and entrepreneurship to be ready to fit into the global market place on which today’s economy depends on. Entrepreneurial Skills Needed by Technical and Vocational Education.
Leadership is not a major cause of Nigeria’s under-developed status. Nigeria can become an economic power-house (and realize its visions) only if proper attention is given to education and technological development and promotes and rewards creativity, and channel its material and human resources to productive use.
The leaders must recognize the relevance of technical and vocational education in national development and adopt and adapt what works in developed nations. The resources being wasted in the on-going false re-branding campaign should have been used to re-brand the nation’s education sector.
No amount of rhetoric (or fanciful slogan) would solve Nigeria’s socio-political and economic problems. The leaders could salvage Nigeria’s image by re-branding their mentality and doing the right thing: tackle corruption, reform the electoral system and fix the dilapidated institutions. Thus, without a fundamental shift in values, beliefs and thinking, and without technological capability, Nigeria will continue to dream of becoming a ‘Great Nation’.
It cannot be overemphasized that technical education is the engine for economic growth. No nation can fight a war without an army. In the same token Nigeria cannot develop without well-equipped technical and vocational institutions.
In fact, it is the missing link in Nigeria’s development policies. Because of poor training and ineffective institutions Nigeria suffers from low productivity. But the progress of any society lies in the productivity of its citizens. Higher productivity gives a nation advantage of economies of scale and lowers the costs of production and prices of goods and services.
Nigeria should begin now to take very seriously investment in education and skill training as no nation can compete effectively in the emerging global market place with poorly educated and unskilled workers. The leading factors of production in the emerging global economy are said to be technology, knowledge, creativity and innovation.