The National Universities Commission (NUC) has expressed its readiness to boost programmes aimed at improving employability skills of Nigerian universities’ graduates.
Acting Executive Secretary of NUC, Dr. Chris Maiyaki, stated this in Abuja on Monday, July 31, 2023 at this year’s International Summer School and Conference of the African Centre for Career Enhancement and Skills Support (ACCESS).
Maiyaki said the Commission was saddled with the responsibility to ensure that universities were equipped with the necessary tools, facilities, and skills to nurture employable graduates.
He stated that graduates must be fully equipped to face the challenges of a dynamic and interconnected world, constantly advancing in technology.
Speaking further, he said the improvement and update of educational programmes constituted a continuum which must align with the realities of global best practices.
According to him, this offers every student the opportunity for constant refinement of the skills needed to be employable in order to excel in an increasingly, competitive world, adding that the Commission was also leveraging on entrepreneurship programmes to ensure graduates become successful jobs creators.
”Entrepreneurship has now become part of our educational experience. This is because in the face of unrelenting unemployment and disconnect between theoretical and practical knowledge, it behoves on NUC to, in a multi-stakeholders platform begin to convene meetings of this nature to highlight the issues surrounding employability.
”We went into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), wherein we hope to get the buying of captains of industry, employers of labour and stakeholders to build consensus around the issues.
”And for this particular event, we are looking at employability research issues because there is a lot of half truth, sometimes non truth that are planted.
”We hope that international platforms of this nature with all the experts and academics will deepen knowledge surrounding the issues of employability so that we are well informed,” he said.
Maiyaki also pledged that the conference would harness some of the topical issues, best practices and emerging trends around the world, while formulating an implementation machineries with concrete implementable actions to drive graduates employeability.
Declaring the conference open, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo, called on tertiary institutions as well as captains of industry to devise a means and strategy to train Nigerian graduates that would be fit for the labour market.
Adejo noted that with the increasing number of tertiary institutions, especially universities, graduates coming out from these institutions could not find job because of the problem of employeability.
He said that the missing link between the academia and industries must be addressed so that graduates would possess skills that would make them employable.
According to him, we must continue to collaborate to strengthen educational institutions to solve the problems of youth unemployment.
”This is because there is a missing link between both the teach and what the market needs, so issues of unemployment and unemployability of the African graduates will always remain very important.
”It is therefore important on us as Africans to devise and implement strategies to train persons that are not only fit for the labour market but will also find job placement when they graduate,” he said.
Adejo commended NUC for constantly advancing graduate employeability through the introduction of Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) in 17 academic disciplines in over 200 programmes.
Also speaking, one of the ACCESS project’s resource persons, Professor Utz Dornberger, from University of Leipzig, harped on the need to create competencies from Nigerian and other African universities to promote employability.
The Economics and Management Science Professor said, “we want to support employability of students and you can always support employability of students when you create more structures, more resources and more competences for the universities to promote employability, to support lecturers and obviously every Nigerian university to develop their competences in order to help the students to develop the necessary skills to get better integrated in the labour market…
“The key focus areas are on university to develop more linkages and collaboration with private sector. This universities have to create more collaboration structures with entrepreneurship centres and career services.
”Universities should train more of their own lecturers and professors in order to develop new approaches for teaching their students.
”Classroom teaching is not any more up to date approach but we need much more collaboration with industries to bring the practical task and problems to the classroom.
”So that students can work on real life projects and try to develop solutions for the private sector and also the whole society and lecturers of such universities have to coach this type of project”,
On his part, the team lead of Nigeria on the ACCESS project, Professor Adebola B. Ekanola, expressed confidence that the conference would usher in the needed results in repositioning Nigerian graduates to have the necessary skills to compete effectively in the ever competitive global job market.
ACCESS, established in 2020, is in partnership with seven counties to provide innovative ways to promote employability of African graduates. The countries are Netherlands, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Tunisia and Germany.