The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has indentified among many other factors the need to focus on vocational education for a speedy and prosperous future.
Fashola said this at a one day stakeholder’s meeting organized by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria on how to proffer solutions to the decline of Technical Education in Nigeria with the theme “Technical Education Manpower Shortage” at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.
The Minister who was represented by his Special Adviser on Works, Engr. Femi Hamzat, drew his reference from three different countries: - Singapore, South Africa and Canada and advised all the educational policy makers to emulate those countries, saying for example, that Singapore has consistently transformed its educational system to meet its required needs. He further stated that Singapore credits her competitive and growing economy to the nation’s approach to education by identifying areas in the economy that require skill-based education.
The Minister said, in South Africa “vocational technical education is recognized as an important factor in developing its economy and as such, its development has been used to heal the past divisions by improving the standard of living leading to a more successful nation.”
Fashola also stated that Technical Vocational Education systems are dynamic and the challenges thereof are unique. As such he opined that efforts must be geared towards the system that will address the national needs and economy, if actually the nation is yearning for development it desire. The Minister called on the Federal Government to articulate effective and responsive Technical and Vocational education system, which will accommodate Nigeria’s vast social, economic, educational and cultural conditions for national development
Fashola also said that plan is on-going on how to strengthen Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency, (FERMA) to be more responsive to the needs of national growth through legislation. The reasons for doing this he noted are to engage artisans and craftsmen to fix roads and to make FERMA a big employer of labour to different categories of manpower.
Earlier, the President of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, (COREN), Engr. Kashim A. Ali, said the theme for the meeting was informed by dearth of technical colleges which has led to non-existence of qualified Craftsmen and Technicians in Nigerian engineering sector and the needs to fine tune ways of addressing the issue.
Engr. Kasim stated that Artisans and Technicians constitute a very important manpower of the value chain in the engineering service delivery, stressing that “the dearth of indigenous artisans and technicians in the engineering sector has negative impact on economy, and as the skills gap continues to widen, there has been huge capital flight as expatriates come in to fill the lacuna at the detriment of the country.”
In his goodwill address, the Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Works, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, charged the stakeholders to gear up their efforts in addressing the shortage of artisans and technicians within the profession, otherwise the issue of hiring expatriates will continue to exist because the vacuum cannot be left unfilled.