A don and gubernatorial aspirant in Oyo State, Professor Adeolu Akande has urged government at various levels in the country to fund skills acquisition and vocational training to address the problem of youth unemployment.
He spoke as a guest lecturer at the commissioning of a 450 rooms dormitory by the International College for Arts, Science and Technology, ICAST, Ibadan, at the weekend.
Akande, who is a visiting professor of political science at the Igbinedion University, Edo State, advised that skills acquisition and vocational training is the most effective way to address youth unemployment because such training will feed the small and medium scale enterprises which employ 65 per cent of workers in developed economies.
The former chief of staff to the governor of Oyo State explained that reliance on government and the big companies to provide jobs for the teaming youths in the country is no longer realistic because the economy is growing at a lower rate than the population while the government is even finding it difficult to pay salaries to its workers.
Professor Akande said recent statistics have shown that 36 per cent of university graduates in Nigeria are unemployed.
He said the percentage for unemployed graduates from polytechnics, colleges of education and secondary schools make the picture of youth employment more worrisome.
“The pictures takes a frightening dimension when it is realised that 36 per cent of children of primary school age are out of school and are therefore not formally prepared for employment,” he lamented.
He opined that if the country had adhered to the philosophy of the 6-3-3-4 policy of education which was embarked upon in the 1980s, it would have prevented the present crisis of youth unemployment.
Hear him: “The National Conference on Curriculum in 1969 had envisaged that the continuation of the curriculum inherited from the British colonial powers would spell doom for youth employment when it recommended focus on skills acquisition and vocational training in our education system. It is the failure to adhere to this recommendation that led us to where we are now.”
Akande, who admitted that vocational training requires more funding for education, volunteered that governments in the country should strive to meet the UNESCO recommendation of 26 per cent budgetary allocation to education.
“The funding of education with 26 per cent should not be viewed as a waste. Education is one way governments could affect the lives of every family and individuals in society. Government needs to review its priorities to fund education in a functional way. Education impacts on every aspect of our lives. An educated child is an asset for the security of the society because children who lack skills to earn a living constitute a security threat.
“Education over the long run reduces government expenditure on health because an educated person takes precautions to maintain good health. It is education that provides children with the training to become good leaders and perform their civic responsibilities”.
A government that views education with this perspective will not consider 26 per cent budgetary allocation to education as a waste.
The don dismissed arguments that the problem of youth unemployment in the country is a result of growing population.
He explained that India has a population of 1.2billion but a far lesser percentage of youth unemployment because the education system focuses on skills acquisition and vocation training.
He advised that government should look beyond the formal educational institutions to design strategies that will incorporate skills acquisition programmes in the informal education system to prepare youths who did not attend formal schools for skills acquisition and vocational training.
He concluded that skills acquisition and vocational training will feed the small and medium scale enterprise which employs 65 per cent per cent of workers in developed economies.