*recommends recipes for meeting evolving job needs
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The immediate past Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoyo has called for a significant adjustment in the curriculum currently used in universities across Nigeria.
This follows the growing gap between what Nigerian universities offer their students and what 21st century workplaces require from graduates,
Mr. Inoyo made the call while delivering his keynote lecture on “School and Work at Crossroads: Preparing for 21st Century Opportunities” during the 2021 University of Uyo Students Union Government’s (SUG) Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Uyo at the weekend.
Inoyo, a former National President of Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria who currently serves as Advisor, Inoyo Toro Foundation, expressed concerns that the Nigerian University system is no longer preparing students to adequately fit into the evolving job needs of the 21st century.
His concerns, “Among other purposes, school was designed to prepare one for work. But today, people attend schools which prepare them for jobs which do not exist, including equipping them with knowledge not in tandem with the requirements of the 21st century.”
“The 2021 National Bureau of Statistics data, which puts the unemployment rate in Nigeria at an alarming 33.3%, is already a sad reminder of a mismatch when juxtaposed with our 308 degree-awarding Institutions (134 polytechnics and 174 Universities), at a current enrollment population of about 2 million, churning out about 600,000 graduates annually.
“That schools will also graduate students with little or no practical exposure in their fields shows a disconnect between the gown and the workplace.
“A few weeks ago, I had an encounter with a promising Akwa Ibom youth, who recently graduated in Marine Engineering from one of our universities. But the problem is that he has never been on a ship throughout his entire school years. How is he going to start his career journey? Why was his program not linked to such practical exposure? When compared to his peers from other climes, who already have experience on ocean-going ships, how will he compete?”
He however, gave some recipes for closing the widening gap between school and work and offered workable tips on how university students can prepare to meet the evolving job needs of the 21st century.
According to him, in a knowledge-based world, information and innovations are king. Ideas drive innovations, especially in the red-hot technology industries and so the curriculum must be adjusted to enable students express themselves responsibly and blossom in meeting the job needs of the 21st century.
“As we know, our society needs innovation in every sector. Efforts should therefore be geared towards enabling projects that will impact the entire ecosystem. I am hoping to see centers that would accelerate student’s entrepreneurship, providing hands-on start-up experiences.
“There should be rigorous internship opportunities as part of the school curriculum to prepare students for the marketplace. …This will ensure that you, including my young marine engineering friend, are not given the short end of the stick, going forward”, Inoyo suggested.
He lauded the efforts of Vice Chancellor of University of Uyo, Prof. Nyaudoh Ndaeyo in ensuring the takeoff of a TETFUND Center for Computational Intelligence. The centre is hoped to provide opportunities for students to acquire skills in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics.
Inoyo himself, a foremost student leader who served in the SUG Parliament of the University of Calabar in his days, shared bits of his personal life story, the former and outlined ingredients for success during and after university education, describing such as his moral compass for success.
According to him, self-determination, hard work, integrity, access to information, continuous self-improvement and divine direction are the basic requirements for success both in school and in the 21st century workspace.
He charged the students to uphold high moral standards in all they do, as they pursue their dreams and aspirations for a better future.
“Yours is a generation like no other, audacious, and blessed with technological advancement. But while the authorities must play their part in providing the enabling environment for you to excel, the actualization of your dreams is squarely in your hands. Going forward, you must end any romance with those who have over time mortgaged your future. And you know them. You must eschew any affiliation with groups that do not advance the common good and flee from illicit drugs”.
Earlier in his address, the University of Uyo Students Union Government (SUG) President, Comrade Emmunuel Akpan, spoke on the challenges and success of his administration, describe his stint as the longest in recent history, occasioned by COVID 19.
The 27th SUG President, on behalf of the Akwa Ibom State Students’ Community, celebrated the enormous contributions of Mr. Udom Inoyo to education in Nigeria, particularly his annual award and reward programs for secondary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State, in the last 14 years.
He noted that it was in recognition of such contributions that Uniuyo SUG was honouring him with an Education Icon Award.
Other recipients of awards under various categories included former Peoples Democratic Party Chairman in Akwa Ibom State, Obong Paul Ekpo; Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong; National President of Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Wing and Senior Pastor of Holyghost Ambassadors Ministry International, Apostle Nyeneime Andy; and Nigeria’s recently conferred youngest Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Wisdom Enang, Ph.D.