Being a paper delivered by the Director General of DAWN Commission, Dr. Seye Oyeleye, SFIIHP to Participants of Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji Kaduna State at the Public Service Training Institute (PSTI), Ilara-Mokin, Akure, Ondo State on Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022.
I am pleased to have been invited once again to the Ondo State Public Service Training Institute (PSTI), here in Ilara Mokin. I hope I will be able to do justice to the paper I have been charged to present. However, I will like to exercise my speaker privileges and modify the topic by adding “technical and vocational skills”. This thereby changes the topic to: “Development of Technical, Vocational, and Entrepreneurial Skills, a Panacea to Youth Unemployment and National Security Challenges”. Before I proceed any further, I believe it will be pertinent for me at this point to acknowledge the bravery of the men and women who continue to pay the ultimate price to keep us safe while sustaining the territorial integrity of the country. We remain indebted to you all for your resolute patriotism and unwavering loyalty. May the Almighty continue to protect and preserve you all as you discharge your duties.
My presentation this morning will begin with a recap of a similar paper I presented to participants of Course 30, National Defence College last year. Thereafter, I will provide a historical perspective to the challenges of development in Nigeria. This will be followed by a careful attempt to explore the relationship between youth unemployment and national security. The current state of entrepreneurship and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Nigeria is further explored. I then examine the extent to which the development of enterprenuerial and technical and vocational skills can address youth unemployment and national security challenges. I subsequently take the liberty to sample two countries who are relatively peaceful/secure and have comprehensive entrepreneurial or technical and vocational education systems. Recommendations for the way forward are provided following that. I conclude my paper by summarizing its main points in the conclusion.
Recap of Last Year’s Paper
Last year, I was priviledged to have presented a similar paper titled, “Countering Insecurity in the State and its Capacity to Enhance Human Security” to participants of Course 30, National Defence College. In the paper, I argued that countering insecurity in the state has a tremendous capacity to enhance human security. I quoted Kofi Annan, the late former secretary general of the United Nations, who once said, “human security is the freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom from indignity”. Although, he later added the “and the freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy natural environment” (United Nations, n.d.).
This definition of human security represents a paradigm shift from the state centric definitions of security that involves the protection of territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
There are traditional and non-traditional conceptions of security. Traditional security is “when the nation state is secure to the extent to which it is not in danger of having to sacrifice core values, if it wishes to avoid war, and is able to, if challenged, to maintain them by victory in such war” (Walter Lippman, 1994, in Niklas Swanström, 2010). Traditional security as a phenomenon, was limited to the scope of wars amongst nations. A particular reference are the Thirty Years’ War, the Napoleonic wars, and the different civil wars that transpired in Europe between the 17th and 18th century. Security in those eras was seen as protecting the State from the violence and invasion of other States (Rothschild, 1995). It was defined exclusively in terms of the ability of the State to defend its territory and its values against military threat. It was simply about survival of the State.
Non-traditional security issues are challenges and threats to the survival of and well-being of peoples and states that arise primarily out of non-military sources, including climate change, resource scarcity, epidemics, natural disasters, uncontrolled migration, food scarcity, transnational crime, drug and human trafficking, as is well epitomized in the concept of human security (Cabellero Anthony, M., 2016 in Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia, 2020).
Human security is considered a form of non-traditional security. Unlike the traditional conception of security that is state-centric in nature, the human security approach places emphasis on the individual. It proposes that the traditional notions of security fail to address insecurity in a comprehensive manner and that security for the State does not automatically trickle down to the citizens.
Human security threats include both objective and tangible elements such as little to no income, chronic unemployment, poor access to quality healthcare and education amongst others. Subjective perceptions such as the inability to control one’s destiny, indignity, fear of crime and violent conflict etc. are also threats to human security. These threats can either be direct or indirect. Direct threats are those deliberately orchestrated such as systemic persecutions. Indirect threats are those that occur unintentionally or structurally, examples are under investment in critical socioeconomic sectors such as education, health and social protection.
The absence or presence of human security can be measured against quantitative indicators such as crime rate, violence, unemployment, freedoms and protection and promotion of human rights.
During my presentation on that faithful day, I further delved deeper into the conceptual underpinnings of the Human Security approach while demonstrating the extent to which the Southwest State governments had taken steps to promote human security in their respective States. However, prior to that, I had provided insights into two countries who were making progress in promoting human security, Vitenam and Norway.
My presentation today will build on the premise of that paper. It will operate within the context of the distinctions between traditional and non-traditional conceptions of security.
Historical Perspective – A Faulty Foundation
Nigeria’s national security challenges are not independent from the several other development challenges the country has been facing for many years. To effectively appreciate the difficulties the nation-state called Nigeria finds itself, we must look back at its history.
As with many countries around the world, Nigeria was a victim of European colonialism and imperialism. Pre-colonial Nigeria consisted of various ethnic groups and tribes.
There were kingdoms, empires, statelets, principalities, city-states and acephalous societies (Iweribor, 1982). From as early as the 12th century it has been documented that many different groups lived and governed in the area later to be known as Nigeria. In the Nigerian area, there were a few specific groups, which include the Songhay Empire, the Oyo Empire, and the Kanem Borno Empire, with a slight presence of the Malian Empire as well (Pennsylvania State University, 2014).
These Empires were largely distinct with different cultures, customs and traditions although they traded, interacted and waged war against each other. However, the decision of the British, who at different points were trading with the aforementioned Empires, to directly interfere in the governance of the Nigerian area changed the course of the territory’s history. British direct interference in the area escalated with the bombardment of Lagos in 1851 and continued with the formation of the Northern and Southern Nigeria Protectorate, the amalgamation of the Lagos Colony and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate in 1906 and ultimately, the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914.
This seemingly innocent act has continued to plague the socio-political-economic development of the country. Bigotry, tribalism, and ethno-religious biases have coloured the political, economic, and social relations amongst Nigerians to the extent that it has stalled our progress.
The consequences of the illegitimate unification of the country began to unfold as early as 1945. Although, the emerging nationalistic political elites of the new country, Nigeria, all collaborated to work towards its freedom from British rule as early as feasible, ethnoreligious and tribalistic identities plagued the quest for political power once a pathway to independence was established (Remi Adekoya, 2018). Despite this, the political elites were geniunely interested in the progress of society and the wellbeing of the people.
On the 1st of January 1947, the Richardson Constitution came into effect. The Constitution aimed at deepening indigenous participation in the political-economic administration of the country. It therefore divided Nigeria into 3 Regions for the first time: Northern, Western and Eastern Regions. However, it was not until 1951 that the Macpherson Constitution created a framework for a regional system of government that was buttressed with elections. The regional governments could now make laws covering issues ranging from agriculture, animal health, fisheries, forestry, education, local industries, cooperative societies, education, social welfare, customary land tenures amongst others.
The advent of military rule in 1966 stalled the progressive development that was being experienced in virtually all the Regions in the First Republic. As is characteristic of military governments all over the world at that period, the Nigerian Military rulers sought to consolidate the power they acquired. To achieve this, they issued several decrees that transferred powers from sub-nationals to the central government, effectively creating a Unitary Nigerian State.
Following the 1967-1970 Civil War, Nigeria experienced a significant oil boom which although allowed the Military Government to invest heavily in infrastructural development, it also made it easier for both civilian and military government officials to engage in corrupt practices and rent seeking.
The transition to democratic rule in 1999 did very little to address the country’s myriad of challenges and the faulty administrative structure of the country.
Security which was in the purview of the regional governments to begin with, became the sole responsibility of the Federal Government. So at different points in time the security of Nigeria was being directed from Lagos and Abuja. With a growth in population from around 50 million in the 1960s and 1970s to 130 million in the 2000s, the security apparatus has refused to change despite clear indications that the system was and continues to fail. More so, the approaches to the different security challenges continues to remain the same: the purchase of military equipment, increase in recruitment to the different security agencies, significant increase in budgetary allocation to the security sector just to mention a few. This was and remains the order of the day, whether it was fighting against the Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits, kidnappers, cultits, cybercriminals, ritual killings, and Farmers-Herders Crisis.
Likewise, the extreme concentration of both political and financial power at the center severely impedes the socioeconomic development of the country. In the 1st and 2nd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the exclusive and concurrent legislative list makes provisions for the powers of the federal legislature and state legislature. Mineral resources situated in States and Local Government are unfortunately situated in the hands of the Federal Government. Of the revenue generated by the whole country, 52.68% is retained by the center, the State government obtains 26.72% and the local governments 20.60% (Taiwo K. and Veiga, L.G., 2020).
The 1999 Constitution also incorporated a political multi-party system as the vehicle for canvassing votes by any public office seeker. Although campaign finance and election financing are regulated by the recently amended 2010 Electoral Act and previous Acts, its provisions have been poorly enforced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (Akhihiero, n.d.). This has further contributed to the deep seated corruption and rent seeking being observed all over the country as the country’s politics has become transactional, revolving around wealth and the sharing of state resources. As a result of this, rather than utilizing tax payers money and government revenues to create jobs for youth and create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive, public policy is instead focused on avenues to recover from the costs of contesting political offices.
Today in Nigeria
A faulty foundation which includes self-centered politics and the over centralization of powers at the center has dire consequences for the socio-economic development of the country.
There’s no geo-political zone in the country where insecurity has not taken its toll. ISWAP and Boko Haram still terrorise communities in the Northeast, bandits continue to kill scores in the Northwest and Northcentral. In the Southsouth and Southeast, the threat of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and oil militants in the Region remains a cause for alarm. In the Southwest, kidnappings and ritual killings have become the order of the day. Last month, both the United States and the United Kingdom issued terror alerts about possible attacks on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In 2022 alone, the National Grid has collapsed at least 6 times (Udegbunam, 2022). Moreover, According to the World Bank, over 85 million Nigerians don’t have access to electricity (World Bank, 2021). Today, about 18.5 million children, the majority of whom are girls, do not have access to education in Nigeria (UNICEF, 2022). The National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS) has also said foreign investments into Nigeria had declined by 81.46% ($6.91bn) from $8.49bn in the first quarter of 2019 to $1.57billion in the corresponding quarter of 2022 (NBS, 2022).
The Federal Minister of Finance a few months ago revealed that debt servicing has overtaken revenue. In the first quarter of 2022, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion. The consequences of this are dire for development outcomes across board and easily exacerbates insecurity.
Youth Unemployment and National Security Challenges
Insecurity and youth unemployment are mutually reinforcing. The prevalence of insecurity hampers economic growth. Businesses currently operating where insecurity is rampant are bound to be less productive than those who operate in more secure environments. The incidence of insecurity also deters potential investors from investing in a given location. With productivity hampered, revenues are bound to dry up. When revenues dry up, businesses seek opportunities to cut cost and one of such easy ways is the laying off of workers. With little to no new businesses emerging, job creation efforts suffer a huge setback, while the large unemployed population continues to grow. According to the latest NBS Labour Force Report (2018), 29.7% of Nigerian youth aged 15 – 34 are unemployed. With a median age of 18 years, Nigeria has one of the largest youthful populations in the world (Salau, 2022). (Pay particular attention to that age group) With a huge youthful population and no source of livelihood, the life of crime becomes increasingly appealing. It becomes easier for youth to decide to engage in kidnappings, ritual killings, drug peddling, cyber crime and electoral violence. That is however the supply side of the equation. There are elements in society who are in demand for desperate and helpless youth to carry out their sinister agendas. This include but not limited to terrorist organizations, secessionist organizations, and politicians.
Also, the high number of Out of School Children across the country provide impetus to youth unemployment and insecurity. As earlier pointed out, there are over 18 million children Out of School in Nigeria. These children are a pool of human resources waiting to be exploited by terrorists and organized crime.
Besides, those who are in school are not learning skills relevant to employers in the 21st century. This further worsens the unemployment rate and the prevalence of insecurity, as the educational system continues to produce youth who are unemployable. If a graduate is fortunate to be employable, he or she will be competing with tens of thousands of her peers for a single position, that is not even guaranteed to pay the bills.
All these are worsened by the country’s unchecked population growth rate which reinforces youth unemployment and national security challenges. Nigeria’s annual population growth rate is 2.5% according to the World Bank, 2021. Its fertility rate on the other hand is 5.25 births per woman (World Bank, 2020). A large population is more difficult to feed, clothe and shelter, especially with little to no resources as is the case with the government and many poor, low and middle-income Nigerians. The larger a population is, the more difficult it is for a government to address their needs and wants. As humans when our needs and wants are neglected, we seek other means to meet them. This analogy applies to the basic unit of society as well, the family. With a population allowed to fend for themselves, there’s no telling what they would do to survive.
The Current State of Entrepreneurship and TVET in Nigeria
As it has already been identified earlier, one of the drivers of national insecurity in Nigeria is high rate of youth unemployment. The linkage of high level of youth unemployment increases the level of idleness and potential participation in crimes. The increased stock of unemployed youths increases the supply base of probable criminals from where recruitments are made into several nefarious activities. Therefore, addressing the security situation in Nigeria requires a multidimensional approach. This includes a sustainable method that addresses the root causes of insecurity in the country. In order words, beyond the traditional approaches which essentially center on kinetic (traditional) strategy, a sustainable way to achieve an appreciable level of national security involves combining both kinetic (traditional) and non-kinetic (non-traditional) methods. Having been fortified with different military operations targeted at fighting insecurity in the country but which were mostly kinetic (traditional), two important non-kinetic non-traditional) approaches that could be leveraged to achieve a considerable level of national security in Nigeria are accelerated investment in entrepreneurship and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). These become germane because they address the fulcrum of youth unemployment in the country with potential rise in the nation’s level of industrialization and economic growth.
Currently, entrepreneurship in Nigeria is just gaining traction due to the realities of limited employment opportunities orchestrated by the country’s de-industrialization linked to the collapse of indigenous companies and the crowd out of most foreign industries. These realities led to the introduction of entrepreneurship education into the school curriculum in higher institutions. Previous government’s effort include the establishment of entreprise oriented institutions such as the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Association of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in 1986 and 2003 respectively. Also, the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) program, NYSC enterprise schemes, and Agribusiness schemes, etc were deliberate policies aimed at enterprise development at different levels in Nigeria.
Unlike entrepreneurship, TVET has not enjoyed corresponding attention in Nigeria due to the perceived social status attached to the holders of these certificates. The undue emphasis placed on other forms of degrees led to the proliferation of higher institutions in spite of inadequate opportunities for gainful employment. Yet, TVET is a diverse sector. It comprises formal, non-formal and informal learning. It takes place across a wide range of settings including schools, public and private vocational centers and institutes, higher education institutions and workplaces in both the formal and informal economies. TVET also has a multitude of very different institutional arrangements, organisational approaches and regulations. (ETF, 2012).
Entrepreneurship and TVET as Tools to Addressing the Twin Evils of Youth Unemployment and National Insecurity
It is no doubt that investment in entrepreneurship and TVET has great potential to drastically reduce youth unemployment in the country and positively improve national security when the targeted population are gainfully employed. With the current level of unemployment rate at 33% (NBS, 2022), it is clear that available job opportunities cannot match the teeming population of unemployed youths in the country. Thus, entrepreneurship would redirect the mind of the teeming youths to focus on what they can do for and by themselves instead of waiting on government for employment.
According to the 2021 State Entrepreneurship in Nigeria Report, entrepreneurship remains a powerful force and an important influencer for driving innovation, productivity, job creation and economic growth. To increase the potentials for increased employment generation therefore, the Nigerian entrepreneurship ecosystem and Nigeria’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) programmes and policies could be reviewed, revised and expanded to create a more sustainable and productive ecosystem that would benefit all key stakeholders (Fate Foundation, 2021).
On the other hand, TVET has the potential to also reduce unemployment rate and accelerate the level of industrialization in the country. Manpower development can be described as the process by which skills of workers and people are built to make them more effectively and efficiently productive. It is a process involving a holistic aspect of developing human capacity in terms of enhancing people’s technical and interpersonal skills to creative thinking and leadership. Thus, to underscore the importance of building a virile pool of manpower for the economy, further investment is needed in TVET at various levels. More importantly, the establishment of different Technical Colleges (TCs) and other Vocational Training Institutes/Schools (VTI/S) is aimed at building critical lower and middle-level skilled manpower would build the industrial base in the country.
This would however require further funding of technical and vocational education and training institutions in Nigeria to play its role in engaging more youths and redirect their energies and exuberance positively. For instance, from 2015-2022, the budget share of technical education averaged 1.90%, occupying the lowest rung of the funding ladder. The budget share of colleges averaged 8.89% while polytechnics topped the chart with an average percentage budget share of 12.33%.
As a tool for reducing the challenge of youth unemployment and national insecurity in the country therefore, it is important to invest in entrepreneurial education to empower the youths to become employers of labour rather than job seekers. This would involve inculcating entrepreneurship education into the school curriculum right from the primary and secondary schools which is their formative years. Also, increased funding to TVET institutions in order to reignite the industrial capacity of the country is essential while provision of adequate support to those MSMEs for sustainability and growth by improving ease of doing business in the country is also key. Entrepreneurship should move beyond classroom based learning– schools, institutes, training centres, to real life application of the skills. Blended learning involving off-the-job in a structured setting and on-the-job usually in a workplace (actual or simulated).
Entrepreneurship and TVET – Global Case Studies
Though, no country around the world, can be said to be perfect, there are a few who, as a result of their robust entrepreneurship and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems, have addressed insecurity in their respective countries. Some of these countries include, Japan, Ghana, the United States, Germany, Botswana, the United Kingdom, Finland, Singapore just to mention a few. However, for the purpose of my presentation today, I will be focusing on Botswana and Finland.
Botswana is a landlocked country at the centre of South Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, the Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe. To create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to succeed in the country, the Botswana government created several programmes, policies and institutions such as the Botswana Enterprise Development Unit (BEDU), Financial Assistance Policy (FAP), Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), Arable Land Development Planning (ALDEP) and National Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Diary Development (NAMPAADD). Further, there have been other initiatives involving the establishment of Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) that are directed at the provision of finance, training and mentoring of citizen entrepreneurs (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2012).
Today, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) remain the cornerstone of Botswana’s economy. SMEs in Botswana account for over 30% of private jobs and contribute between 15% and 20% to the country’s GDP (Nathan, Molefhe, et al, 2015). There are over 56,000 SMEs operating in the country, employing over 125,000 including business owners (AfDB/OECD, 2005).
With businesses requiring power to operate optimally, Botswana electricity access has reached 77% of the population in urban areas, while in rural areas is still limited to 37%, although increasing. In Nigeria, electricity access rate was nearly 60% in 2015 (according to the World Bank), with 86% of urban areas and 41% of rural areas with access, while access to non-solid fuels reached only 4% (Sustainable Energy for All, 2022).
Botswana is also ranked 87 out of 190 countries around the world according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking (World Bank, 2021). In the rankings, Nigeria is ranked 131st.
At the core of entrepreneurship is human resources. The level, volume and quality of education are important factors in determining the level of entrepreneurship in a country. While over 27% of primary school aged school children are Out of School in Nigeria, just 9% of primary school aged children are Out of School in Botswana. Whereas Botswana has 10% of the lower secondary school age population are out of school, in Nigeria this figure is at 31% (UNESCO, 2020).
In Botswana, skill training is provided by through two paths; apprenticeship schemes and TVET courses at different levels. Apprenticeship training is a 4 years scheme, formalised by apprenticeship contracts with an enterprise. Each year, apprentices spend 3 months at a Technical College or another approved TVET institution. After the 4 year apprenticeship training, students can sit for the National Craft Certificate (NCC) examination.
As a response to the high rise of out of school children in Botswana in the mid 1960s, the Botswana Brigades Movement was founded (Parsons, 2000). The Brigade Movement aims to provide primary school leavers with vocational training geared to the needs of the local area. Despite its name, the brigade movement has never had any involvement with military or para-military activities. Brigades in this context refer to a trade (bricklayer, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, etc.). A Brigade Center is a cluster of brigades organized under a single local governing authority, in a single locality. There are presently 41 community-owned and run Brigades Centers in Botswana. The Brigade Centers provide artisan training under the concept of “production for the local community”. The students at the Brigades obtain Level C Skills Certificates after 2 years, and Level B Certificates after an additional 1 year. After 3 years, students are qualified at the level of semi-skilled worker. The recently introduced Botswana Technical Education Programme (BTEP) is being offered to citizens and non-citizens through Brigades and four Technical Colleges in the country (Pal Baliyan, 2013).
The Botswana Government has also invested heavily in TVET infrastructure and human resources (Oketch, 2014).
Botswana’s robust entrepreneurship and TVET development systems have undoubtedly had an impact on national security. According to the Global Peace Index (2021), Botswana is the 4th most peaceful country in Africa and the 48th in the world. Data from the World Bank also reveals that intentional homicides per 100,000 people in Botswana is 15. In Nigeria, there are 22 intentional homicides per 100,000 people.
Finland is a Northern Eurpoean country bordering Sweden, Norway, and Russia. About 99.1% of all employer firms are SMEs in Finland, equating to about 79,435 companies. These companies employ 57% of the Finnish Labour Force. However, if non-employers are included in the equation, the SME share in employment goes up to 64%.
Through four government-owned companies, the Finnish government provides financing and business development support to SMEs in the country. Finnvera Plc and Business Finland provide unsecured loans, guarantees and grants. While the Finnish Industry Investment Ltd and Business Finland Venture Capital Ltd invest in startup companies and small businesses that have long-term potential (OECD, 2022).
Finland is ranked one as one of the best places to do business in the World. According to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report (2021), out of 190 countries, Finland is ranked the 20th place in the world to do business. In addition, electricity access in Finland continues to be at a 100% both in urban and rural areas.
As previously highlighted, the strength of a country’s educational system determines the levels of enterpreneurship in the country. In Finland, compulsory education starts from primary school up until the lower secondary school levels (Finland Ministry of Education and Culture, n.d.). 93% of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools and 66% go on to higher education, the highest in the European Union (Hancock, 2011). Only 2% of primary school age children in Finland are out of school. While no (0%) lower secondary school age children are out of school (World Bank, 2019).
Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Finland is overseen by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. VET in Finland is competence-based and customer oriented. According to the Ministry, the purpose of VET is to “increase and maintain the vocational skills of the population, develop commerce and industry and respond to its competence needs.” National and local governments are responsible for financing VET. Besides learning materials, VET is free in Finland. Students are also entitled to a free meal and school transport subsidies. However, for further and specialist qualifications, a reasonable fee may be charged. Upon completing basic education (which includes junior secondary school), students in Finland choose either between general or VET as a upper secondary school pathway. Their choice is usually based on their own interests, skills and success in previous studies. The three biggest VET sectors in Finland are i) engineering, manufacturing, and construction ii) business and administration iii) health and welfare (Finland Ministry of Education and Culture, n.d.).
VET in Finland is held in high regard. Nearly 50% of the youth apply for vocational upper secondary studies immediately after basic education. 9 out of 10 of all Finns are of the opinion that VET offers high quality learning with strong working life orientation. Finnish VET also places emphasis on enterpreneurship skills. To ensure quality assurance in the VET system, the Finnish government works closely with the private sector, regional governments and VET providers.
As is the case with Botswana, there are work placements for students of VET in Finland. Studying at the workplace is either based on apprenticeship or a training agreement. In apprenticeships, capacity would be acquired through work tasks and will be reinforced in other learning environments if needed. The student, VET provider, and employer agree on the modalities for the apprenticeship together. The apprenticeship is based on a fixed term contract between the employer and the student. The student is considered a full time worker and is remunerated. On the other hand, in the training agreement, the student is not on any employment contract and does not receive any pay. The training agreement is drawn between the VET provider and the workplace. The workplace is required to keep track of the development of the student and report to the VET provider.
Teachers in Finland are highly respected and valued. This also applies to VET teachers. The recruitment of VET teachers is stringent to the extent that less than half of those who apply are employed. Moreover, the requirements for VET teachers are demanding. First and foremost, VET teachers must have a Masters of Bachelors Degree in their own vocational sector. If a degree does not exist, it can be supplemented by the highest possible other qualification in the sector. Secondly, VET teachers must have a pedagogical teacher training with the scope of 60 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credit. Thirdly, VET teachers must posses enough relevant work experience in their own field.
Without doubt, Finland’s effort to create an enabling environment for enterpreneurs to thrive while supporting TVET has had positive ramifications for the country. Finland ranks the 14th most peaceful country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index (2021). Intentional homicides in Finland is one of the lowest in the world, with 2 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. Youth unemployment in Finland is also low at 17.1%.
In addition to some of the recommendations that are implied throughout the course of my presentation, the following are some of my thoughts on addressing the youth unemployment crisis and national security challenges in the country, with respect to entrepreneurship development and TVET.
- As the President of the African Development Bank said, there should be a paradigm shift from youth empowerment to youth investment. We must remember that an investment is something that yields returns and if the appropriate investments are made in our youths, the returns would be abundant.
- The National Security Adviser should recommend that the Federal Government adopt non-kinetic (non-traditional) approaches to addressing insecurity.
- The population census that will be held in 2023 must be credible so as to ensure efficient national planning.
- There needs to be a deliberate effort to ensure that military expenses are equivalent to socio-economi development programmes with a particular focus on the youth.
- There’s a huge education crisis brewing in the country. To ensure our education system produces youths who are not just skilled for the jobs of tomorrow but are also creators of said jobs, we must:
- Address the ongoing learning crisis.
- Reform our anachronistic curriculum.
- Re-invent the teaching profession.
- Prioritize the provision of school infrastructure.
- The financing mechanisms for TVET in Nigeria needs to be urgently reviewed.
- It is a no brainer that in 2022, technology should be incorporated in fighting crime and addressing wider national security challenges.
- The rapid increase in population growth needs to be urgently checked. According to the United Nations, Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world by 2050. What are the steps we are taking today to create a prosperous future for the current and expected growth in population. Even if we create 500,000 jobs every year, but fail to address our growing population, similar challenges will still exists.
- Nigerian entrepreneurs and small business owners are struggling to survive with little to no access to electricity. Or in some cases, the high cost of electricity. Concerted efforts must be geared towards increasing energy access, prioritizing renewable energy sources.
- Existing credit schemes in the country should be expanded to cater to the large numbers of SMEs in the country. In Nigeria, the total numbers of SMEs are over 17 million and contribute 48% of the country’s GDP and account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment (PwC, n.d.).
- Nigeria’s justice system must be strengthened as this reinforces the country as a preferred destination to do business in.
- Agribusiness is a largely underutilzed setor economy, particularly in the Southern part of the country. Making agriculture attractive and profitable for the youth are critical interventions that will address the youth unemployment challenges.
- Many interventions or support to enterpreneurs are usually focused on the provision of finance. Though, this is also very important, equal attention should be paid to providing business and managerial development support to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Equally important is reducing the cost of accessing the internet as many more small businesses are increasingly dependent on it for the growth of their businesses.
- Whatever progress we make in addressing this dire situation (youth unemployment and insecurity) would be limited without effectively restructuring the country by devolving more powers to the federating units.
As I have attempted to explain throughout my presentation today, unemployment and national security challenges are mutually reinforcing. A high youth unemployment rate breeds crime and insecurity. However, we can nip this increasingly dangerous trend in the bud before we reach the point of no return. Some of the recommendations I have just proffered present a template to begin.
This afternoon, I have been able to provide a brief recap of a similar paper on Human Security I presented to participants of Course 30, National Defence College last year. I presented a short historical perspective on the challenges of development in Nigeria. Using that as a background, I attempted to explore the relationship between youth unemployment and insecurity in the country. This provided an opportunity to examine the current state of entrepreneurship and TVET in Nigeria. I thereafter described how entrepreneurship and TVET can be used to address youth unemployment and national security challenges. Subsequently, I explained how Botswana and Finland’s robust entrepreneurship and TVET systems help promote security and socio-economic development. I ended by offering my humble suggestions on the way forward.
Thank you for rapt attention.