Skill Acquisition: Challenges Of Realistic Youth Empowerment In Nigeria

By Meshack Idehen

“Today’s World is on a fast lane towards entrepreneurship of which skill acquisition is an integral and very important part of it”.

Henry Ford.

Trained men are better than experienced men. Today, unemployment has become an air born disease whose extent of disaster can no longer be measured. The number of work force in Nigeria is consciously growing in geometric progression. Every year Nigerian Universities chums out thousands of graduates whereas the rate of employment generation is less than arithmetic progression.

The reality staring us today reveals nothing but the fact that being a graduate is a good thing but the University does not teach us how to succeed after school and our University certificate is not an instant ticket to success.

 Many graduates fail in life because the reason we acquire western education has not changed. A larger proportion of us go into college or higher institution with the mindset of getting a good job. And as such, we find ourselves revolving round a cyclic prison.

 However, with the present altitude of technology and societal advancement, the world today is fast changing and dynamic that our certificates are no longer enough. Yes, after certificate, you still need a skill or skills. Fifteen years from now, only men of skills would be in control and stand the test of time.

Developed societies across the world are structured in such a way that every child acquires a particular skill or the other in line with their passion at their formative ages. They give priority attention to vocational training at the primary level of their educational process.

The number of graduates being turned into the labour market yearly is alarming and should be an issue of concern to any government that wishes to succeed. Western education is good but does not teach our youths how to succeed after school. The reason being that the true essence or importance of education has not been inculcated or defined.

The contemporary Nigeria child sees education as a means for getting a white collar job, hence a vehicle to better living. The contemporary Nigerian parent sees education as an apian way to greatness: the only way out of poverty and hardship. They tell their children “If you want to become somebody in life, go to school so you could get a good job”.

No parent tells his children to go for skills! With this consciousness, the child becomes a robot hovering in a psychic prison which must be actualized in other to achieve fulfillment in life. He goes to school as told, studies hard, graduates with good grade. To complete the circle, he must get a job, so he begins a job search till he finds one irrespective of the length of time it takes. The value system that sets a country free is that which is built on independence which our current educational system doesn’t entrench.

Rather, it breeds employees (labourers) rather than employers. Western education came with both vocational studies in form of technical schools where various skills are acquired and the higher institutions represent platforms for advanced enlightenment. However, the recklessness of our leaders today has pushed away the technical aspect of it, which is even more important, leaving us with the latter. True growth and development in a country stems from a solution based thought system on the part of its citizenry.

The tragedy today is that Nigeria’s educational system has succeeded in breeding a large army of dependent persons whose survival instinct is hinged on government sustenance because they are trained to get or expect from the society but were never taught to give to the society.

 A larger proportion of Nigerians today, think more of what Nigeria would do for them rather than what they would do for Nigeria because they have been trained to think and act like that by the educational system. Until this issue is addressed, the problems of insecurity and unemployment would grow worse.

 The world today is on a fast lane towards entrepreneurship of which skill acquisition is the control panel. There was a time in the developmental process of our society that it seemed as if skill acquisition was an exclusive reserve of the poor or less privileged, a time that a child couldn’t stand sight of his/her guardian telling him to acquire a skill, say Welding and fabrication, shoe making, or auto mobile mechanic, etc.

 But the reality staring us today is that only those with skills would stand the test of time in a country such as Nigeria highly susceptible to economic unpredictability. To live a salary based life in this country is fast becoming a risky risk. The irony is that many of our graduates today would fail in business if given entrepreneurial opportunities by government, reason being that their thought and value system has been programmed to think and act as an employee and not employer.

Government efforts at youth empowerment would continually meet with failures until we fall back on an educational system that entrenches values of skill acquisition. Nigeria of fifteen years from now would be too unsafe to dwell if this trend continues unchecked.

No matter the effort of the government in job creation outside this observation, it can never amount to any meaningful outcome. This observation calls for urgent attention which can only be ignored at the detriment of the country’s peaceful co-existence and tranquility, national growth and development.

The today Nigerian youth needs mental and attitudinal reengineering which would entrench the old value of skill acquisition- I mean the very skills we saw as local and primitive at the onset.

Government must give priority attention to vocational studies by equipping our technical schools, building more working vocational centers, effective partnership with private skill acquisition centers, deploying trained academic counselors to public schools and vocational centers, establishing entrepreneurship as a compulsory course in both primary, secondary and tertiary institution’s curriculum for this is the only imperative for true national growth and development.

…With support from Comrade Marcus Ekure, a youth developer and public affairs analyst.

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