President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the involvement of employers of labour among other critical stakeholders in the design and review of higher institutions curricula, saying it will generate the skills and competences that will be beneficial to the society.
The stated this while delivering an address at the Federal University of Technology Akure’s (FUTA) 31st convocation, recently.
Buhari who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. Suleiman Rahman Yusuf, said such review would take care of the perceived gap in the specific needs of the society and what is being taught in the ivory towers.
According to the president, government expects Nigerian universities to produce quality graduates, imbued with the requisite knowledge, competences, attitudes and skills to be active role players in the quest for socioeconomic and technological development. He said: “I expect universities to pay serious attention to the less than complimentary assessment of the graduates of our universities by employers of labour. Definitely we cannot be comfortable when products of our citadels of higher learning are being described as ‘unemployable’ exhibiting lack of job readiness and so on".
Buhari maintained that issues of graduate employability and skills are pertinent issues gaining attention nationally and internationally and are prominent on the front burners of discourse on higher education and the future of work.
The situation, he said, “calls for a more proactive role by universities in ensuring that their graduates are better equipped to function more meaningfully in the world of work in addition to acquiring the requisite entrepreneurial mindset and can-do spirit which have become a sin qua non, in today’s reality where readymade jobs are dwindling by the day meaning that graduates with the mind set of job creators stand a much better chance of success than those who are fixated on working for others.” The president also emphasised the need for collaboration between the academia and the industry to proffer solution to Nigeria’s challenges.
He said, “in order to ameliorate the identified deficiencies, a multi- faceted approach is required and in this regard, collaboration is key.” Government is aware of the ongoing partnership between the National Universities Commission and the organised private sector under the aegis of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) within the framework of the triple Helix Model of Academia-Industry-Government partnership.
“Such important partnership, portends great promise in bridging the gap between the theory and practice, through the anticipated intense interactions between academia and industry including industrial attachment, sabbatical leave, internships and immersion for both lecturers and students.” He said such collaborations and cross-fertilisation of ideas are also “capable of mitigating the competency and skill gaps believed to exist among fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities in the work place since the lecturers would expectedly return to the classrooms with first had knowledge of contemporary industrial practices and realities” The president challenged FUTA and other specialised universities to seek out and collaborate with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs to create innovation hubs and science and technology parks in their campuses to provide practical scenarios for the promotion of the actualization of the entire gamut of research and innovation value chain.
He implored the 2019 class of FUTA to remain ever determined to contribute their quota to nation building by making the world a better place while assuring of governments readiness to continue to fulfill its obligation to the universities and appealed to the university managers to adhere strictly to management principles and practices that guarantee the judicious expenditure of available funds.
Also, the Chancellor and Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Dr Rilwanu Adamu, said it was heartwarming to note that the university is taking the lead in several areas; advancing the frontiers of knowledge in science engineering and technology with diverse breakthroughs in scientific research, invention and human capital development.