By Vera Anyagafu
The German envoy to Nigeria has said that a strong private sector with skilled workers is key to vibrant economic development of Nigeria.
The German visiting Member of Parliament and General Manager, Giessen-Friedberg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Thomas Leder gave the statement during an official meeting and cooperation with Nigera on sustainable economic development through the small and medium scale enterprises,SMEs, vocational education and training.
Leder who shared experiences and insights gained in German-Nigeria bilateral relations said a strong private sector is the driving force for the prospering development of any country. He also said that the backbone of a strong private sector is its skilled workers.
He said some German companies are on ground to provide trainings within the System of Dual Vocational Training, as the cooperation aims at ensuring the supply of skilled employees for tomorrow, and for fact that Germany and Nigeria are connected to a long history of international cooperation, the need to encourage the Federal government of Nigeria to enhance vocational training and education is now imperative.
“Generally for all German companies, the Dual System basically consists of two core elements. The inter-digitization of 1/3 theory and 2/3 practice, then the influence of the private sector on content and organization. Although, Dual System cannot magically work overnight, persistence will pay off in the long run.”
“If you compare training systems on an international scale, the dual system, most successfully, integrates young people into the employment market”, he said, adding that, “The current average youth unemployment rate of the European Union is around 19%, ranging from 43% in Greece, France with 25% and Great Britain with 13.5%.”
He said Germany has 6.5%, which is by far the “lowest youth unemployment rate within the EU.”
He also disclosed that by law, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry are mandated to organize and handle the Dual System scheme and maintain a close relationship with members, which at the end leads to multiples of win- win situations for all.”
He said the German economy spends about € 23 billion per year on vocational training because the return on investment is massive.
Leder however advised the Federal government to embark on the practice to contribute to its economic success, explaining that in Germany, 2 out of 3 young people join the system of dual vocational education and training and with enormous new contracts per year, Germany records remarkable effects on its economy.
It was also disclosed that over 160,000 professional experts work on honorary basis in examination boards of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and one of the key factors for the participation of the private companies is their strong influence on both the content and the organization of training.
He said, for the nation’s youths, relevant training leads to excellent job perspectives as the trainees are also made to acquire social skills within the real life of a company while a motivation of getting training fees, known as “earning and learning” is also made available to which, and apart from the promising youth who benefit from the dual system, the German government equally benefits from the creative outputs.
Stating the reasons why the German government sponsors the scheme, Leder said, “The private contribution eases the burden on public budgets and prospering companies generate more tax income. These are only two of the reasons why the German government fully finances the training centres, and or vocational schools, as well as the education and employment of vocational school instructors.”
Continuing, he submitted that Nigerian-German partnership programme on dual vocational education and training is key to boosting both countries’ economies as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said Giessen-Friedberg started the Nigerian-German partnership programme, which is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and since inception, has successfully transferred elements of the German Dual System to Nigeria.
“We are more than glad to collaborate with five strong partner institutions which are the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ogun Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Nigerian-German Business Association.”
“With the exceptional support of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce and the German General Consulate in Nigeria, we transfer elements of the German Dual System to Nigeria. Our common project is piloted in three regions, Abeokuta, Abuja and Lagos. And Jointly with the Nigerian private sector, we developed curricula, trained trainers from both companies and training centres and trained trainees in the four professions of Industrial Electronic, Industrial Mechanic, Technical Facility Management and Office Administration.”
Stressing on continuity, Lederhowever added that, “now that the project will run out by end of 2018, there is need to address the challenges of sustainability, so that other regions of your blessed country can also benefit from it.”
Commenting on his observation of the scheme both in Nigeria and Germany, Leder, said that “the approval of Dual Vocational Education and Training obviously works very well in Nigeria. The apprentices provide an outstanding work for their hosting companies during their training and after graduation.”
“And the companies participating in the project definitely benefit economically from the skilled apprentices.”
“For Germany, the Dual System is one of the key factor, both for a low youth unemployment rate and economic growth, but it is a very important one. They believe in the Dual System because it works and are convinced that it will also work in Nigeria,” Leder concluded.