Tetfund set to implement IFC Employability recommendations in Nigeria

By Jack Acheme, Abuja

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The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, has expressed the Fund’s readiness to implement the recommendations from the graduate employability benchmarking exercise carried out by the International Finance Corporation, (IFC), to reduce the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria.

He stated this during the Implementation Support Workshop for the National Employability Benchmarking Programme in Nigerian universities, held in Abuja.

He said the IFC report indicates that the aggregate average score of Nigerian benchmark institutions across the five dimensions of employability is 2.3 out of 4.0, which is just above the average of all institutions benchmarked globally (2.2).

He noted that the report which also covers the assessment of the institutions’ Digital Learning Strategy, shows that surveyed universities lagged behind global best practices in application of digital learning strategies, access to large multidisciplinary databases and digital course-reserves as well as the level of faculty digital skills.

He said the development requires deliberate action on the part of all stakeholders to address the peculiar challenges and enhance the employability of Nigerian university graduates.

“An increasing number of young Nigerian graduates from tertiary education institutions are being released into the labour market with a continuously shrinking absorptive capacity. 

“For our part, the Fund is committed to the implementation of the recommendations from the employability benchmarking exercise.

“We strongly believe that the implementation would ultimately improve graduate employment, and thus reduce high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. 

“The Fund is also organizing a capacity building programme for Career Unit Staff of our universities. The programme is designed to empower the staff to develop capacity, and acquire the skills and knowledge to support students in developing capabilities to find and sustain meaningful employment. 

“The programme would equally equip career officers of the Institutions who do not currently have career services unit with the basic skills to set up the Unit,” he said.

According to him, the fund is also in the process of establishing entrepreneurship and innovation hubs in beneficiary institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country, to link them with industry with a view to enhance entrepreneurship development, innovation and employability in line with contemporary global best practices.

He advocated for monitoring of students after graduation, especially in their areas of practice and success rate, including a strong Alumni network, as it encourages mentoring, creates culture of excellence and sustains it, stressing that they are key to the employability agenda in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary regretted the 50% unemployment ratio in Nigeria, despite the abundant human and natural resources, adding that there was the need to activate every sector and grow it to do away with the mono-cultural oil economy that is serving over 200 million people.

He urged participants at the workshop to key into the “Renewed Hope” agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration by making inclusive sacrifices for prosperity of the nation.

Dina Nicholas of the IFC in a presentation on “IFC Global Employability” said research on the African continent shows that graduate employability in Nigeria stood at 12.1 percent compared to South Africa with over 24 percent.

Managing Director of Cognity Advisory, Tope Toogun, who is also a consultant at TETFUND said the fund in a couple of weeks from now will commence the training mentioned by Executive Secretary for all the beneficiary institutions

One of the participants, Professor Harry Obi Nwosu of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, commended TETFUND for the programme, especially the career education, which hundreds of thousands of students will benefit from and become employable after graduation.

The exercise is geared towards facilitating the link between Research, Development, and Innovation with the processes of promoting and enhancing entrepreneurship development to ensure graduate employability for national development.

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