ONWE SUNDAY ONWE
Department Public Administration
Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki
The Nigerian Economy presently is not in the position to provide qualitative and quantitative data on its human resource needs which has often resulted to high unemployment rate, depressed and stagnated economy. This article reviewed the status of manpower needs in the Nigerian economy with the aim of providing data for education and training to build the capacity of employers of labour. The objectives of the study are to identify the required skills in the economy, determine and project future skills required in the economy, and recommend professional and vocational skills required for the growth of the economy and the direction of training and education to meet current manpower need of the Nigeria economy. The specific findings of the study are that many organizations are faced with difficulties in sourcing particular skills in some professions, poor remunerations, preference for self-employment, insufficient and obsolete office equipment and poor enrolment of personnel were responsible for the challenges that organization experienced in sourcing particular number of manpower in current employment. Similarly, it was also discovered that the government and other stake holders in the economy are unaware of the current manpower needs of the economy and as such have not responded to these needs. The implications of these are that training is not tailored towards the needs of the economy. Again, the number of professionals in the current employment of the organizations is inadequate for meaningful business in the economy; many organizations lack the requisite competences for the job they perform, sourcing of professionals and vocation would be difficult in nearest future. The article recommended various programme approaches and urgent review of the educational system at all level to ensure provision of core and functional skills that graduates require to perform in organization.
The success or failure of every organization depends on the available manpower. Manpower comprises men and women, young and old no engage in the production of goods and services and who are the greatest assets of the organization (Ndionu, 1992) quoted in Ezeani (2006). The ability of any organization to achieve its goals depends, to a large extent, in the calibre, organization and motivation of its human resources (Ezeani, et.al, 2002).
According to Likert, quoted in Ezeani (2004:2) … all the activities of any enterprise are initiated and determined by the persons who make up that institution. Plants, offices, computers, automated equipment, and all else that a modern firm uses are unproductive except for human effort and direction.
These also point to the importance of manpower in any economy. The manpower of any country must be planned to meet the needs of the economy. It should have the necessary qualification, knowledge and skill to meet the contemporary needs of the economy. In Nigeria there is the problem of manpower requirements in the different sectors of the economy. These sectors have inadequate data in the various sectors which do not meet planning needs.
The economic growth has been slow in Nigeria. The country’s annual per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stagnated in the 1990s, and grew by 22% between 1999-2003 (NPC 2005), far below 4.2% (Per-eapita growth required for significant poverty reduction. The country is rich in petroleum resources, which account for over 90% of its exports since the 1990s, but over half of the population, however lives below the poverty line of USDI a day. Investments in other sector of the economy, especially, manufacturing has stagnated below 10% of the GD.P. The story is the same for huge potentials of the solid minerals, which remain undeveloped due to lack of enabling environment.
The volatile nature of the economy has been largely responsible for brain drain and capital flight. Similarly, investments in the health and education sectors have not translated into positive stimulant for the economy. The manufacturing sector is on the steady decline in Nigeria (N.P.C. 2005), the absence of competent and skilled manpower has partly hindered growth and the diversification of the economy, which would have resulted in a dramatic shift in employment. There is also a high income inequality, unemployment and disease that have threatened social cohesion.
The absence of needed data on skills required within the economy is posing challenges to national development. Data on skills are often not available or are hidden in files of organizations when available. In the same vein, available data from organizational groups are also either inadequate or obsolete to be relevant for sustainable development.
Inadequate capacity building and scarcity of data have implications for a competitive economy, government response to training and education for the future. Government revenues and expenditure have been volatile, thereby increasing the cost of doing business in the country and forcing highly educated citizens to migrate to advanced countries for greener pasture. There is also high income inequality, unemployment and disease that have threatened social cohesion… government has made unsuccessful efforts through various policies and programmes to diversify the economy.
These include education and training through apprenticeship, colleges/schools, university programmes, etc which are designed to provide the required and competent manpower to move the economy forward. Unfortunately, the educational system is dysfunctional, since graduates of many institutions cannot meet the needs of the country. Many graduates are unemployed while many employed ones are not competent. In the same vein, the government, organizational groups and individuals do not seem to understand the manpower needs sector by sector and the existing skill gaps.
The primary objective of this article is to provide data for education and training to boost the present and future manpower needs.
The broad objectives are to identify required skills in selected sectors of the economy, recommend the direction of training and education to meet contemporary manpower required in the Nigerian economy and also recommend professional skills required in different sectors of the Nigerian economy for sustainable development.
Review Of Some Sectors Of The Nigerian Economy
Agricultural Sector: According to Adu (2005), competencies refer to the behaviour that employees must possess or acquire to enhance economic growth, making it a combination of knowledge, skills (technical, human and conceptual), understanding, ability applications, behaviour, aptitude and performance. For example the first needs assessment of employers of the agricultural graduates was out by NUC in 2004, using key informant interviews and questionnaire. The findings of the 2004 assessment indicated a sharp decline3 in the quality of agricultural graduates in terms of subject-specific competencies and communication skills. The study identified 12skills and ckompet3encies necessary for good performance in the sector, and found that only about half of the graduates were average (table 1)
Table 1: Profiles of Agricultural Graduates in Nigeria
|S/N||Skills||Profile of the skills (%)|
|6||Problem solving/decision making||3.87.9||24.1,40.8||63.3 47.4||8,9 2.6||0 1.3||100. 1|
Sources: Adu (2005)
According to Adu (2005) agriculture contributed 40% of the GDP prior to the 1970s, making it the mainstay of the country’s economy over the years; agriculture has been unable to fulfil its expected role because of peasantry, low capital base, limited knowledge of scientific principles, and its conservative nature towards innovations even when it is highly competitive in developed economies. Agriculture involves natural resources (land, water, renewal and non renewal energy and knowledge) hence; low level of human capital is the most important factor for accelerated agricultural development in Nigeria. The establishment of farm settlements in the 1950 and 1960s in Western and Eastern Nigeria marked the watershed of agricultural education. To consolidate the achievements of the farm settlements and the bias for traditional literacy and academic subjects, technical and colleges, of agriculture were established to provide sub-professionals that could assist in research. Unfortunately, the settlement and agricultural education were neglected during the oil boom, which occasioned the establishment of academic institutions. Aviation sub-Sector: the Aviation sector in Nigeria developed from the first plane that flew into the country in 1925; through the start of commercial flights in 1935, to the establishment of the west African Airways Corporation (WAAC),. And the Airways Limited in 1945 and 1957, respectively, (CATC, 2005). The Nigerian Aviation Training Centre (NATC) Zaria was established in 1964 to train pilots, Aircrafts Maintenance Engineers, Air traffic Controllers, a nautical Telecommunication Engineers and personnel, meteorologists sand flight Operators, Fire Fighters, and Security personnel needed to accelerate the development of the sector. Of all these mentioned areas, less than 10% of the pilots in this sector are indigenes (CATC, 2005) Aircraft Maintenance Engineers are not available in the required number, mix and the needed exposure, requisite knowledge and experience. Aeronautic telecommunication engineer meteorologist and flight operators are also inadequate, since most of available personnel in this sector are expatriates. There is therefore the need to invest more on training the required workforce in this sector (CATC, 2005).
According to Fafunwa (2005), Traditional African education was largely agricultural, trades and crafts that emphasized character training and job orientation. In this system of education, professionals skills (doctors and vocational skills were acquired through apprenticeship. Indigenous societies passed these skills on from one generation to the other within families, lineages, and clans. The introduction of Education placed emphasis on literacy and academic subjects, leading to the decline of vocational and technical education. This problem was compound by frequent changes in the educational systems. The 6-3 -3-5 system of education provided for four levels of technical and vocational education, namely: (i) Pre-Vocational Education at the pre-primary, primary and Junior Secondary Levels of Education, which orientates children to the world of work and acquisition of technical literacy
(ii) Pre-Professional of Vocational Education at the Senior Secondary Schools, Technical Colleges and Vocational Centres for the production of low level skilled manpower
(iii) Technical Education provided in the non-university institutions (Polytechnics, Monotechnics and colleges of Education) to produce technicians and technologists and,
(iv) Technical Education provided by the Universities to
Unfortunately, communication gap between the four levels of technical and vocational education, and unhealthy rivalry between the professional (academic) and vocational/technical components have made it difficult for the educational system to meet the contemporary requirements of the educational sector in particular and the economy in general. There are shortages (quantity and quality) of manpower in the technical and vocational education, especially sciences and Technology Teacher in the country. The argument therefore is that educational system should be tilted holistically towards technical education and skills training should be provided as necessity in all schools (private and public) and at all level of government. The new 9-3-4 system of education is expected to respond to this in both principles and practice, even though it has neither removed the communication gap nor the rivalry between the academic/technical types of education.
|Food scientist||38 27||65,116|
Note: Nice — number in current employment NR =number required. Food, beverages and tobacco sub-sector. Solabi (200d5) presented the finding of an audit in the food, beverages and tobacco (FBI) Sector as follows:
- The falling standard and quality of education in Nigeria has been subject of discussion because graduates of the 1960s and 1980 even in third class Degree and Diplomas compared favourably with their counterparts elsewhere, unlike graduates of the 1990s and 2000s. This led to an elongated selection process for employees in this sector to securesuitable employees. The inadequacies observed in this sector of the economy are obvious; because a skilled and competent labour force would impact positively on the economy.
(ii) The polytechnics and monotechnics offer a total number of 71 courses, while the Universities/colleges offer a total of 398 curses (Solabi, 2005). This sector of the educational system ought to make provision for proper teaching/learning environment, and arrangement for graduates to practice the skills acquired for adequate competency. Similarly, the institutions have clearly defined admission policies, course structures, assessment procedures and graduation requirements; but these excellent provisions of the educational system are merely on paper. The production of food, drinks, and tobacco rely on the knowledge of scientist, engineers and technologists (SET), from where sore skills and competencies originate.
(iii) The taking over of state, NGOs and community schools by the military regime in the 1970s to bridge the educational gap was accompanied by increased enrolments, which led to declines in intellectual and moral standards. This problem was compounded by frequent closure of schools occasioned by strikes and students unrests/protest. Generally, the cause of decline were largely under funding, lack of equip, chemical; brain drain, same curriculum for and HND and flexibility of University courses, and shrinking employment opportunities.
This sector will thrive more if adequate attention is paid to training of staff. According to Solabi (2005), the catering and hotel management, food science/Technology, and Micro Biology has a frequency of 10 (0.6%), 18 (1%) and 12(0.6%) respectively in percentage distribution of vacancies by professions advertised by Guardian newspapers.
Insurance Sub-sector: Chiejina (2005) examined the current and future skills and competencies in the insurance sector. Among other things he found that sills and competencies are the most important resource requirements and purpose far knowledge with which workers carryout jobs effectively and efficiently, even though there is low level off insurance in the country, the sector has contributed immensely to the growth and development of the economy.
In most developing countries, particularly in Nigeria, people were concerned with monetary wealth, than the development of human and competencies, this partly explains why Nigeria was categorized the poorest countries by the 2004 UN Development report. Audit reports of industries, especially of the insurance sector, have stressed the importance of human resource development acquisition of knowledge conceptual), as a panacea for improving skills and competencies. Skill shortages, which could be quantitative or qualitative create skills gap. The quantitative skills shortages results from low wages and supply constraints, while the qualitative skills shortages occur when firms lower hiring standards and experience with turnover of staff.
Skills gap is a significant difference between the levels of skills that current employees’ possess and those that they need to meet business objective a survey of manpower needs in the insurance industry, according to Chiejina (2005), in the country in the 1970s showed that it was suffering. This is because insurance industry requires professionals in underwriting and claims functions, with ethnical maturity and versatility in general businesses, due to the difficulty of securing this training in London insurance institute (LII) in the 1980s, the Nigerian insurance institute established in 1958 conducted these examinations locally. Yet there are shortages of manpower as a result of lack of training and retraining and low-level awareness and interest in profession.
According to Chiejina (2005), only about, only about six universities and few higher institutions offer insurance as a course. In this sector majority of workforce did not pass through formal education and find it difficult to cope with the work demand. Chiejina (2005), asserted that over 65% of the workforce in this sector do not possess the requisite qualification and majorities are on the job training.
Mental Iron and Steel Sub-Sector: Oke and Mudiare (2005) focused on the assessment of five training institutions and 20 companies in the metal iron and steel sector. They concentrated on two studies on the skills required by employees, for job entry and the educational goals of students towards graduation as well as a 1998 survey of employment trends in Texas.
The findings of the Department of labour Study of 1991 in the US, Oke and Mudiare (2005), indicated that students lacked sufficient opportunities to learn problem solving. The ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) study conducted in 1989 identified seven most valuable skills categories to employers: motivation to learn, career development team work, critical thinking, basic skills, communication, and leadership (Oke and Mudiare, 2005). A study conducted in Texas in 1998 to determine current and projected employment trends of high school graduates by the Texas in 1998 to determine current and projected employment trends of high school graduates by the Texas manufacturing firms, however, reveals that high school graduates needed by companies should have the following nine basic skills reading, writing and calculation, communication, critical thinking, group interaction, personal development, computer skills, technical systems leadership and employability (punctuality, regular work habits, decision making, problem solving, creativity, leadership, teamwork, self management and work values/attitudes (Oke and Mudiare, d2005)
Job entry skills and competencies include academic skills (reading, writing, calculation, communication, occupation/technical, safety, etc); and employability skills. An analysis of manning positions in the sector in Nigeria depicted that there were no staff in the repair Team of the Coke Oven/by-product plants, and conveyors and mechanism service team of the Raw materials preparation plants. It further shows that one out of 3 of the 1,026 positions had only one staff, while one out of 10 positions recorded two staff (Oke and Mudiare 2005).
Public service sector; The professionals and vocations are expected to bring the knowledge acquired from institutions and the experiences acquired on the job to bear on the formulation of policies and programmes. The findings of a 2000 World Bank study, in which graduates of Nigeria Universities were assessed, indicate that skill requirements especially in key skill arras as communication technical, conceptual and analytical, and organization are not met by the graduates due to the deteriorating quality of education (Oni, 2005). This rending has been supported by other studies such as Ajayi (1998). Akerele (2001) and opatola (2002) claims Oni (2005). The declining trend has continued since the 1990s, hence, there is the need for improvement of capacity building in the public service sector for effective implementation of organizational tasks, especially in view of new reforms.
Oni (2005) also observes that capacity building depends on the availability of personnel equipped with the required technical and managerial skills. He stated that ASCON, CMD, NCEMA, MIILS, the ITF, including the states and company owned training centres are the specialized institutions for capacity building. Table depicts the number of trained participants in some of these specialized training institutions.
Table 3: Specialization Training Institutions and The Number Of Trained Participants.
Source: Oni (2005).
There are major challenges that inhibit effective performance of the roles, leading to low capacity utilization. These challenges include the arbitrary manner in which training institutions were established, thereby creating inherent problems of collaboration, monitoring, poor funding, declining enrolment, and lack of vision/mission statement, and the commercialization of courses that made the CMD satellite campuses of some Universities. Besides, training by these institutions is undertaken without training needs assessment. Oni (2005), therefore, reviewed the competencies required for effective productivity in the sector, and concluded that training should be geared towards service delivery, maintenance and sustainability of the reform programmes of government.
Transport Sub-Sector according to the Nigerian institute of transport technology (NITT) Zaria (2005:1) skills are specific abilities required to perform tasks’ the skill can be classified into two viz: basic or key, soft or hard, and critical or non-critical; but preferably, into six as communication, application of skills, knowledge and abilities consistently independently, timely and accurately (NITT) Zaria (2005).
The demand for skilled workers, especially of officer’s category in the maritime sub-sector is more than the supply where 44.8% of officers and 75.3% of rating workforce needed, are supplied.
The establishment of the NITT Zaria in 1986 provided short term programmes for re-orientation and re-engineering of management practice in industry, problem solving, skills improvement, performance enhancing, and competence building where a total of 2,692 idle-cadre mangers from different organizations have been trained between 1984 and 2004.
A projection of the manpower needs of the sector (rail, road, water and physical distribution) between 1997 reveals that the transport sector suffers shortages of skilled manpower both in terms of absolute number and specific categories. The proportion of the manpower shortage ranges between 77% and 955 in the transport management, planning and engineering skills. This implies that there is the need to carry out massive human resource development programme for the sector.
Training in Nigeria currently is not tailored towards the needs of the economy. Requisite competency to perform job in Nigeria are not directed towards the need of the economy.
This implies that government policies have not provided sufficient incentives for the growth of small scale business to enable them invest in training, the number of professionals in the current employment of the organizations is inadequate for meaningful business to make the economy viable. This suggests that training should focus more on increasing the number of professionals with low perceived numbers ready for business in future.
From out literature so far, we can infer that there is gap in most of the professions. The direction of these skill gaps are obviously in the core skills, which include the need for computer literacy and application. Majority of the staff employed in many organization do o possess the requisite competence to perform the jobs effectively and efficiently which implies that inability of many organizations to produce at installed capacity. Incompetent staff could have some undesirable effects on the image, goodwill and visibility of organizations.
In summary therefore, therefore, the level of competency of personnel to perform jobs imply that training and education in Nigeria are not tailored toward the changing technological development.
Arising from these findings and conclusion, this article made the following recommendations.
- There is the urgent need to review the educational system at all levels to guarantee and ensure the provision of core and functional skills that graduates require to perform jobs in organization; there is the need to embark on enlightenment and advocacy programmes to educate the public and sensitize government on the various dimensions of skills in all sectors of the economy.
ii. Training of professionals and vocational should be encouraged in all sectors of the economy to meet the increasing manpower requirements for business especially in the areas of information and communication technology (ICT) Engineering, sciences, environmental and medical skills to meet the need of the economy. It is the recommendation of this paper also that declining disciplines for business such as copy typist and secretarial studies should be phased out, and replaced with computer application skills, which encourage employees to be self- sufficient and effective;
iii. As a result of declining demand of disciplines like arts and humanities, the energy and resources invested on training graduates in the aforementioned disciplines should be channeled to training of graduates which are in increasing demand for business. The policies of the government should be directed to the training of graduates who will be relevant in the economy. Similarly, parents and students should be made to understand those disciplines that are required currently in the economy. This will guide them in making a choice of career. Available small and medium scale industries should be encouraged to grow into large scale organizations so as to assist in skill upgrading and training;
iv. Tertiary institutions should also be strengthened by funding them adequately and by providing them with equipment and infrastructure to provide the required number of vocations. Organizations should be encouraged to adopt ICT to enhance learning;
v. Employers of labour should be encouraged to provide attractive remunerations and conducive working conditions to attract difficult- to source professionals.
Suggested implementation strategies:
Training support programme: there is the need for the government at all levels, to support institutional initiatives which will contribute to the provision of training and development programmes to bridge the manpower requirement gaps.
Stake holders support programme: all stakeholders should encourage and support educational and training institutions to provide the required manpower through scholarship, finance and provision of enabling environment.
Core and functional skills programme: vocational bodies, supervisory agencies and professional groups should examine and define core skill for every profession and vocation to guide training and educational institutions in designing their training programmes.
Response to skills and manpower in the work place: government should put place a rapid response mechanism to issues of skills acquisition work places and economy in order to contribute to the reduction of the challenges of manpower and mitigate the skills and competencies on productivity.
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