Professor Gana Advocates Skills Acquisition to Boost Graduate Employability
To make Nigerian graduates employable, emphasis has to be laid on skills development programmes to equip them.
This was the submission of the former Nigerian Minster of Information and Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, on Friday, June 24, 2016, while delivering a Keynote Address at the 11th Convocation Ceremony of Covenant University, Ota.
Professor Gana who spoke on, “Improving Graduate Employability and Global Competitiveness: A Review of Nigeria Higher Education Delivery,” emphasised that skills acquisition is the most powerful key to making Nigerian graduates more employable by both the public and private sectors of the economy.
“We must place great emphasis on skills development. The driving force of the development process in the world today is ‘know-how,’ not mere education with certificates,” he explained.
Professor Gana, who is also the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) pointed out that know-how is a product of skill acquisition. “While talent may be a gift, skill must be sought after and acquired,” he added.
“Those with skills are most likely to be people of ideas and creativity, especially in their area of expertise. Therefore, the way to go to make Nigerian graduates more employable is to soak them with high quality learning which emphasis skills not mere certificates. Skills acquisition programmes should be offered in all universities,” he advised.
The Keynote Speaker cited examples of countries which placed emphasis on skills acquisition, which according to him was as high as 70% in Germany; 80% in Japan and 92% in South Korea, but only 23% in India and less than 10% in Nigeria.
He stressed the need for the nation’s education system to de-emphasis paper certification and focused on know-how and skills, noting that there is a world of difference between reading to pass exams and studying to have knowledge and acquire know-how.
The former Minster also argued that academic programmes must be related to the needs of the society. He said, “Irrelevance of academic programmes to the needs of the national economy constitutes some of the problems affecting the Nigerian university system. Whereas knowledge for its own sake may be valuable, the question of relevance greatly affects the rate of employability. Many of our academic programmes are totally irrelevant to the developmental needs of the economy.”
Moreover, Professor Gana advised that for Nigerian universities to be in the league of the world-class universities, the challenges of poor access or low carrying capacity, poor staff-students ratio and quality control as well as poor linkages between academic programmes and essential needs of the national economy must be addressed.