The Roles of Nigerian Engineers in Human capacity Building is the topic being a Text of Address Delivered at the Investitures of 7th Chairman of NIMechE Lagos, Engr Abdulganiyu Tiamiyu on 16th December 2021. By Engr Kamil Olalekan, FNSE.
Engineering advances for human-centered development could potentially capture the distinction between developed and developing civilizations. Engineering is one of the world’s primary drivers of sustainable development, with significant implications for the creation and maintenance of human capital. Nigeria, like other developing countries, faces difficulties in fully using human resources for national development. As a result, this article looks into engineering and human capacity building as a way to increase the flexibility of human capital development in Nigeria.
Countries need to have the scientific, technological and engineering capacity to provide solutions to the sustainable development challenges they face in areas such as health, agriculture, communication, energy and industrial and infrastructure development. They must not only invest in good national science policies and governance systems but also in building capacity to carry out scientific research which means excellent science education at all levels, effective engineering education and quality universities and research centers. Scientific capacity and know-how whether resulting from local and national research or imported through technology transfer is critical in being able to develop and choose appropriate solutions to today’s multiple sustainable development challenges.
To achieve this, sustainable human capacity development has to be put in place by investing heavily in capacity building to improve their human capital index (HDI), add value to their socioeconomic base, increase human and organizational productivity, and strengthen the institutional and legal framework for citizens capacities.
2.0 HUMAN CAPACITY BUILDING
Human capacity building is the enhancement of human endeavors through the creation of an enabling environment through training, retraining, motivation, and employee assessment or evaluation to achieve high performance in the workplace. For human capacity building to be effective, it has to be sustainable.
Capacity building and development involves the following:
Sound formal education from the universal basic education level to tertiary education and enhancement of non-formal education practices in all ramifications.
Human capital development been the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively.
Organizational development, the elaboration of management structures, processes and procedures, not only within organizations but also the management of relationships between the different organizations and sectors (public, private and community).
Institutional and legal frameworks for the development, legislation and regulatory changes to enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities.
3.0 NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
National development refers to the ability of a country to improve the social welfare of the people by providing social amenities like good education, infrastructure, medical care and social services.
Economic development for developing countries can be effectively stimulated by building the technical capacity of their workforce, through quality education programs. A competent technical workforce base can then provide several paths to economic development: attraction of technically oriented multi-national companies, who can invest effectively in the developing country once there is a cadre of qualified local employees available; effective utilization of foreign aid funds, and providing a legacy of appropriate infrastructure projects and technically competent people to operate and maintain them; and small business startups by technically competent entrepreneurs. Capacity building aims at developing secure, stable, and sustainable structures, systems and organizations, with a particular emphasis on using motivation and inspiration for people to improve their lives.
An engineering approach, when coupled with entrepreneurship, results in societal as well as personal benefits. Science policies are not enough. Science and engineering education at all levels and research capacity need to be built to allow countries to develop their own solutions to their specific problems and to play their part in the international scientific and technological arena.
4.0 INEVITABILITY OF HUMAN CAPACITY BUILDING
In every field of life’s endeavor, like the field of Engineering, capacity-building cannot be over emphasized as a measurable improvement in the competence and ability of the skilled individual to fulfill a set task.
Technology evolves by the day as science advances almost every moment with new discoveries and innovations therefore the skills that an Engineer came out with from the tertiary institution of College of Technology cannot sustain performance for too long without an on the job training and retraining programme to update the knowledge of the Engineer.
For example in the auto mobile industry, in year 2020 alone, there were new trends which is a total change in the conventional system. Now we have Lightweight, fuel-efficient materials engines, Automation and self-driving cars, Electric vehicles whereas just a year later, now 2021 we now have Electric Vehicles, Connectivity and Data, Connected and Self-Driving Vehicles and an admixture of robotic engineering into automobile engineering to produce cars that are both solar powered and auto drive.
In the civil engineering field, we have lots of innovations away from traditional scaffolding, vibrator system for sky scrapers and so on. I am sure you will also agree with me that in Telecommunications, our telephony has taken some crazy dimensions. Crazy in the sense that from our so called “palasa” NOKIA phones that could drop several times without getting damaged to the exotic I-Phones that we now have in the market.
If an engineer comes out of school some twenty years ago and did not upgrade his or her knowledge till date, such an engineer would have become out of date or an outright novice in his field of competence. Generally, there are new scientific discoveries that did not out rightly condemn the theories that existed since ages, but they are in place to build on the new discoveries to improve on the purpose for which certain discoveries were made. This and many other reasons make capacity building very essential in the engineering profession no matter what the skill is or which area of endeavor.
The cost incurred in capacity building is no doubt an asset to the organization because fresh ideas are easily generated and those involved turns out well improved.
5.0 BENEFITS OF HUMAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
It promotes Nation’s Growth: It serves as the engines that propel the country forward, whether in a private or public capacity.
It enhances Structural Employability: Human capital development improves structural employment by providing employees with the appropriate training and experiences to improve their dexterity. Individuals with insufficient capacity training may have a tough time finding work. In this sense, the engineering profession will close the gaps by providing practical training to the workforce to improve their ability to solve real-world challenges.
Enhances Economic Development and National Productivity: A highly skilled workforce or active labor group contributes significantly to economic development and serves as the engine room of the economy, driving productivity and efficiency.
Reduction in Human Capital Flight: The world is globalized, and with the help of the internet, a globally competitive workforce could seek employment in any part of the world, especially those with relevant work experience and training. A nation with a highly trained workforce but the limited economic capacity to absolve graduates from tertiary institutions face the risk of losing its workforce to more economically prosperous nations. In crucial areas like nursing and medicine, developing countries like Nigeria face a capital war.
6.0 THE ROLE OF ENGINEERS IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The role of engineer in national development refers to the application of the knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences, gained by study, experience, and practice in the provision of social amenities like good education, infrastructure, medical care and social services. Specific aspects of national development in which engineers play a vital role are:
Engineers play the role of guidance and counselling of students at tender age at school level in taking decision on the choice of course of career by sensitizing them towards the technical and engineering discipline.
Engineers in tertiary institution i.e. Polytechnic and Universities prepare the undergraduate by taking them through the practical knowledge of their different fields of engineering thereby impacting upon them from their wealth of knowledge and experience.
Engineers inculcate in the undergraduates the need for entrepreneurial skills for sustainable development rather than seeking and indulging in the get rich quick practices. Community Development
The engineer deals with the creation, improvement and protection of the communal environment, providing facilities for living, industry and transportation, including large buildings, roads, bridges, canals, railroad lines, airports, water-supply systems, dams, irrigation, engineered constructions within a given community.
Like community policing community engineering plays a very important role in the monitoring of infrastructural development projects within the neighborhood with a view to ensuring adherence to standards and ethics of engineering practice. Engineers within a community come together as volunteers to sponsor infrastructural development projects like boreholes, water distribution network, construction of drainages, culverts etc. Incorporation of Engineering Companies
The coming together of engineers to incorporate engineering firms has come a long way in fostering National development by ensuring continuity in engineering infrastructural development project, unlike in situations where engineering firms are family biased where probably the principal partner is the only engineer and his demise means the folding up of the company. Engineers and Politics
Decision making for national development is made at the highest level of government. Involvement of engineers in politics affords them the opportunity to be at these policy/decision making bodies. Engineers at these levels, use their professional knowledge to attract and defend important engineering infrastructural development projects. Similarly, Engineers in politics contribute to the enhancement of the welfare of other engineers thereby motivating them to higher productivity for national development.
Engineers in Public Service
Most of the engineering development projects are being conceptualized, designed, supervised, evaluated and certified by the engineers in the public service. These engineers also ensure that these projects are executed according to Specifications. They also make necessary input towards the Procurement of Engineering Projects.
7.0 INTERSECTION OF ENGINEERING AND HUMAN CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT
The following are some of the areas where engineering is contributing to human-capacity development:
Tool Development: The invention of tools and machines is one of engineering’s influences on human capital development. These resources will allow employees to provide their all in terms of efficiency and production.
Creating Opportunities for Entrepreneurship: Engineering, in addition to tool development, provides a potential for economic self-sufficiency. This is accomplished through the acquisition of advanced technical skills and training.
Building Structures: Aside from tools and entrepreneurship capacity development, engineering provides social structures for human-centric development, such as an effective road network, electricity projects, waterworks, and structural designs that will facilitate human capacity building and application to environmental sustainability.
Globalization of Human Capital: Engineering has broken down barriers between people all over the world; the world has become a global village where people from all over the world can interact freely. This is made possible by engineering achievements in the fields of the internet and other information communication technology devices. The development of high-tech software and satellite equipment, for example, has aided in the removal of artificial and natural barriers to worldwide human relationships.
Human Intelligence Development: One of the areas of engineering interventions in human capacity development is the development of human intelligence with the provision of an enabling environment for workforce and training and retraining in line with current innovation around the world. Globally competitive companies will tailor their workers’ intelligence to develop according to what is fashionable in the international market to make their companies or organizations more competitive.
Prudent resource utilization: resource scarcity is one of the challenges that people face around the world, and engineering creates innovations that ensure optimum utilization of resources, including human resources, to avoid or reduce wastage of time, money, and energy. A computer is a good example. This technology has aided in the efficiency of human capacity in a variety of companies.
8.0 CHALLENGES IN HUMAN CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
The following are some of the stumbling hurdles to human resource development in Nigeria:
Inadequate Educational Funding: Adequate education funding in Nigeria is one of the drivers of human capacity development. While sound and qualitative education are critical for the development of human resources, Nigerian education is plagued by poor funding, mismanagement of limited funds, infrastructural decay, and other socio-economic issues. These issues lead to shoddy student training and their incapacity to function effectively in the workplace. By shoddy training, we imply frequent strike that disrupts the academic calendar, little exposure to practical training, little to no research and development funding.
Bad Leadership: A leader plays a crucial role in the development of human capital; good leaders understand the importance of providing realistic welfare packages to motivate people to work. They establish employee rights and privileges, as well as the application of technology to human capacity development.
Economic constraints: Limited financial resources are one of the impediments to engineering contributions to human capital development. Most organizations and government agencies lack the financial capability to invest in cutting-edge technologies which has an impact on the growth of human resources in Nigeria.
Endemic Corruption: Corruption has pervaded Nigeria’s fabric, posing a serious threat to the engineering profession’s development. The national engineering budget is not entirely implemented, and those that are implemented aren’t up to international standards.
9.0 COREN AND WORLD FEDERATION OF ENGINEERING AND UNITED NATIONS MANDATES
9.1 COREN Mandate
In order to stress the importance and indispensability of Human Capacity Building and Development as a cornerstone for sustainable Engineering Practice in our Nation, The COREN Council has announced the implementation and enforcement of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) assessment/scoring as pre-requisite for registering Nigerian Engineering Personnel( Engineers, Technologist, Technicians and Craftsmen) effective from January 2023. Members of Nigerian Society of Engineers and other Engineering cadre are being put on the alert for possible de-register or outright withdrawal of COREN Practicing License (on annual basis) once the threshold pass marks/scores for Building capacity are not met. Let us take note of this development so that all engineering personnel can organize their members and be predisposed to attend periodic training and re-training before the sword of COREN demagogue falls on them.
9.2 World Federation of Engineering Organizations
Other similar mandates that can be attributed to Human Capacity Building are the Washington Accord and the Sydney Accord. Both Accords are international accreditation agreement for Professional Engineering and Technology academic programmes between the cooperating bodies responsible for accreditation in its signatory countries and regions.
9.3 United Nations
“Let me challenge all of you to help mobilize global Science and Technology to tackle the interlocking crises of hunger, disease, environmental degradation and conflict that are holding back the developing world”. This sentence was attributed to Late Dr Kofi Anan, former African descent United Nations Secretary General in his 2002 speech and several of the development goals outlined in the Millennium Declaration.
1 therefore amplify this call to action by challenging Nigerian Engineers to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce by half the number of people living on less than a Dollar a day, by deploying their God given intellect, knowledge and technical prowess to lift majority of Nigerians living in extreme poverty out of the parlous state of our shattered economy fortunes .
It is also important to ensure environmental sustainability and reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and habitable housing.
Finally, we should all be advocate of developing a global partnership for development. This can be done in cooperation with the private sector by making available the benefits of new Technologies – especially Information and Communication Technologies for Human capacity Building in all spheres of our National life.
10.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In summary, capacity building purposefully prepare and empowers the skillful worker to do better on the job and become up to date in knowledge about his skills. Also Capacity building helps in the security of life and properties aside from personal development. Capacity building is the soul and life of every value based endeavor, science or not. Learning is a continuum. Until man dies, learning must continue because today’s knowledge is foolishness tomorrow.
Based on the summary above, the following recommendations are made:
We must improve the education standards at the basic level in order to develop a generation of young engineers that would be learned, well equipped and skilled to confront the enormous challenges of the contemporary society.
We must also begin to raise the bar in terms of the training we give to young engineers as they are the leaders of today and not the future as we always say.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers and other Engineering Bodies and Societies must contribute to the growth of human capacity development in engineering by always giving priority to local Engineers and Contractors who can equally engage our young budding engineers and expose them to the rudiments of this profession.
I THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.