The Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Adewale Oyerinde, on Monday, said the depleting number of industries in the country are unable to employ the high turnout of graduates churned out annually.
He also said the unstable educational system caused by threats of strikes and other challenges negates the ability to produce graduates who are employable and competitive within the context of the global market.
The NECA DG gave the remark at the 2023 International Schools and Conference of the African Centre for Career Enhancement and skills support held at the National Universities Commission headquarters in Abuja.
The event which is a partnership between six African universities and Leipzig University in Germany was organised to enhance the level of employability of university graduates and to investigate the stagnant labour market in Africa despite the increasing level of education of its countries’ citizens.
Speaking in his keynote address titled, “Cultivating New Frontiers in employability research for Skills and Career Enhancement”, the NECA DG noted that stakeholders should take a different approach to the issue of skill development and employability so that graduates have some level of skills and competency that can make them contribute to national development.
According to him, issues of skills development and employability are front-burner issues as they speak to some of the pillars that ensure business sustainability, productivity, and competitiveness.
He said, “As you know, there are 265 universities in the country but unfortunately, as the number of universities continues to increase, the greater the number at which industries are depleting either because of the regulatory environment, mismanagement or other issues challenging organised business in the ecosystem generally.
“This makes it difficult to reach an equilibrium where demand or supply will meet somewhere in the middle. And that is one of the reasons why the issue of unemployment will continue to stare us in the face.
He added, “It is also important that all stakeholders take a different approach to the issue of skill development and employability so that before the graduates will leave the ivory towers, they have some level of requisite skills and competency that can make them sustainable and also contribute to national development.”
As a solution, Oyerinde proposed the dual-purpose educational model, which involves graduates working and schooling at the same time in order to prepare them for participation in the labour market or become employers.
“From the experience, we have had in Germany, Canada, and France where their educational system is moving towards a dual kind of education model where graduates are working and at the same time schooling so that by the time they leave the ivory tower or their colleges, they are already prepared to be an active participant in the labour market. I think that is the direction we should go as a country to strengthen our educational system,” he said.
He further called for collaboration between employers and higher institutions to create a symbiotic relationship, where employers gain access to a skilled workforce and talent pool, and educational institutions stay current with industry trends, ensuring that graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills that employers demand.