Technical and vocational education (TVE) has been an integral part of national development strategies in many societies because of its impact on productivity and economic development. Despite its contributions the leaders of Nigeria have not given this aspect of education the attention it deserves. And that is one of the reasons for the nation’s underdevelopment. This article focuses on the dearth of skilled technical manpower in Nigeria and argues that technical education holds the key to national development.
While technical and vocational education has continued to thrive in many societies Nigeria has neglected this aspect of education. Consequently, the society lacks skilled technicians: bricklayers, carpenters, painters and auto mechanics; laboratory and pharmacy technicians, electrical/electronic technicians and skilled vocational nurses, etc). The hospitals are no longer a place where people go to get their ailments treated, but a place they go and die. Tales abound of how people die during surgeries and out of minor ailments. And the half-baked roadside mechanics in the society cause more harm to vehicles when contracted to service vehicles, and because of poor training some of the commercial drivers have sent many people to their early death. The shabby performance of Nigeria’s house builders (mason/bricklayers, etc) is no longer news. For that individuals with important projects now use competent technicians from neighboring countries. This is not to mention the havoc the poorly trained technicians have caused in the power sector. Nigeria’s spotty electricity supply is the greatest bottleneck to national development. And toiling all day in the field with knives, hoes, and shovels would not feed the nation’s 170 million people. Mechanized farming requires technical skills that could be obtained in technical and vocational schools.
Nigeria is terribly lagging behind in preparing its labor force for the 21st century economy. Adult education is also imperative as it would assist those who could not complete their primary and secondary education to acquire basic skills, and for the retired, who constitute greater part of the unemployed group in the society, to retrain for a second career. No nation would make any meaningful socioeconomic stride without well-equipped technical and vocational institutions. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have noted that revitalizing this important sector is among the ways to improve economic opportunities for the youths. The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and teachers in this area should take up the campaign for more funds for technical and vocational education and to launder its image.