Nigeria is blessed with a 200 million strong human capacity but more than half of us are unable to attain formal education. The low literacy rate of Nigeria has remained a huge challenge for nearly six decades of our sovreignty. It is estimated that about 15 million Nigerian Children are out of school and unable to read and write at the age of 12 years. The challenge is that as persons grow older, they generally loose interest in schooling as their mates have progressed beyond such stage of life.
Many Nigerians who are unable to attend formal education generally get involved in one of these three activities – farming, trading, and handwork. The practice of handwork generally yields better pay and higher social class than farming and trading, even where all requires same basic educational training. It has become common place to find informal training for such handwork or skill acquisition across all societies of Nigeria. Parents pass on skills to their children, community are sometimes identified by the skill sets that is practiced by majority.
Handwork or handcraft are classified into technical and vocational skills. In the case of technical skills, the product must be functional but can as well have aesthetic attributes as part of its quality checks. A person who has obtained technical handwork skills is referred as Craftsman, and may have obtained a National Technical Certificate from National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB) or passed the Trade Test II practice oriented examination conducted by the National Directorate of Employment under the Federal Ministry of Labour & Productivity. On the other hand, Artisans are mainly focused on creating artefacts that look beautiful made and often serve as decorations for offices, houses or even as personal effects.
An artisan may obtain the National Vocational Certificate from NABTEB or pass the NDE evaluation exams too. Common technical craftsmen job roles include mechanic, electrician, plumber, bricklayer, carpenter, and tiler. Other artisan jobs include tailor, caterer, hairdresser, beads maker, basket weaver, and painter.
The importance of craftsmanship or hand skills acquisition cannot be overemphasized. It is generally easier to learn a skill by observing and doing same thing several hundred times over a 90 days or 180 days period.
It is for this reason that many persons who are not cognitively blessed are quickly aligned for handwork training by their parents. Skills acquisition has been and will remain a major job creation method for Nigeria for three main reasons.
Firstly, Nigeria needs approximately 1 skilled person per 1,000 hence we need to have not less than 200,000 persons practicing each of the crafts or trades earlier mentioned. This is the only way to stop that influx of foreigners from Togo & Benin Republic to carry out hand crafts while our people are unemployed.
Secondly, handcraft is a means to provide jobs for the ever increasing number of school leavers estimated at 2 million per year. These basic and secondary school leavers need to be engaged immediately they finish school else they turn into a societal menace as they join various local cults for the purpose of influence and economic survival. It is no longer news that Nigerian Government has been struggling to create jobs over the past 20 years since we returned to democracy in 1999. All efforts have been frustrated because majority of our people are not educated with survival skills including Craftsmanship.
Finally, vocational skills acquisition is the fastest and cheapest form of education for which the Government doesn’t need to spend money in setting up such centers.
Many training centers exist already both formally and informally, which the Government can simply register and align them for small grants or loans to the graduands. This will surely be a way to help cushion the effect of registration fee and we’ll serve as capital for the new entrants to the labour market.
Nigeria, her citizens, and the society stands to benefit if we continue to identify and train Basic and secondary school leavers on both technical & vocational skills acquisition programmes backed by the government.
Engr. Austyne Duru is a Nigerian Engineer, Entrepreneur, Researcher, Philanthropist, and Pragmatist. You can follow him on twitter ; LinkedIn: Austyne DURU, Quora: Austyne DURU.