Vocational educational and training institutes in Nigeria: unable to meet the needs of employers?

Graduate unemployment is a major social problem in Nigeria, today. The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector has the highest potential for solving Nigeria’s unemployment and poverty problems. The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system could prepare graduates to gain employment in the SME sector. However, training systems in developing countries generally, and in Africa in particular, are inadequate in supporting those seeking work or self-employment, and need to improve their relevance in order to effectively address this issue.

Researchers from the Institute of Development Policy and Management, UK, explore the extent to which skills and education provided by VET institutions in Nigerian are relevant and adequate to meet the needs of the SME sector. They identify issues and constraints faced by graduates of the VET system and the SME sector and show how these affect the government’s effort to tackle unemployment and poverty.

The Nigerian formal VET system includes government polytechnics and technical schools and the National Board for Technical and Business Education (NBTE), while the informal system works mainly through apprenticeships. Both of these systems face several problems.

In the formal system the problem is with resources and their management. The community generally has a poor opinion of vocational trade and graduates of the VET system are not employed readily. Those who work in this system do not appreciate the significance of the private sector in general and SMEs in particular. SMEs are usually the prospective employers of graduates from the VET system. But they are not involved in the design and delivery of VET training programmes and this contradicts the claim by VET institutions that SMEs and employers are consulted on such issues.

The problems of the informal sector are inadequate support from government and its agencies as well as the low profile and image of the sector. The researchers also find that:

To get the most out of the Nigerian VET system the government has to address problems that deal not just with the VET system but also those outside it. The researchers recommend the following:

‘Skill Needs of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: An investigation of the interface between labour market and vocational educational training in Nigeria’, Report to the Department for International Development, UK, IDPM, Manchester, by Aminu Mamman, Dec. 2003

Funded by: Department for International Development, UK

id21 Research Highlight: 11 August 2004

Further Information:
Aminu Mamman
University of Manchester
Institute for Development Policy and Management
Harold Hankins Building
Oxford Road
M13 9QH

Tel: 44 (0) 161 2757444
Fax: 44 (0) 161 2738829
Contact the contributor: aminu.mamman@man.ac.uk

Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), UK

Other related links:
'Where has all the education gone? Tracing the employment outcomes of African school-leavers and graduates'

'Skilling up in a globalising world: Africa’s training challenge'

'Reform of vocational education and training in Tanzania and Zimbabwe'

'Skills development in sub-Saharan Africa' - World Bank Report

Vocational education and training research from the world bank

VET in Botswana - British Council Botswana

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