Nigeria is a country where all big investors have no inventions (tangible or intangible) to their credit. Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Michael Dell, Thomas Edison and the likes all have products to patent, but most entrepreneurs we have in Nigeria have invented nothing and have made it through dubious means.
Entrepreneurship/vocational education is government’s way of telling the youth and graduates that she (the government) lacks industrialisation and job creation strategies while the youth have been left to fate.
Entrepreneurship/vocational education is government’s way of making the youth/graduates look intellectually lazy and burdensome as well as telling them that they are have been abandoned in the valley of unemployment. Unemployment rate increased simply because government owned industries and companies got strangulated by the python of corruption as well as the refusal of the government to establish new ones.
Entrepreneurship in advanced countries is about innovations, inventions, replication, improvements, expansions, people and institutional empowerment. Modern and sophisticated skills are being utilised to manufacture goods and services which culminates into abundant job creation.
Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is of the graduate job seeker told to engage in bead making, soap making, hair dressing, laundry and so on. These businesses have neither inventions nor advancement to add to the business practice and the economy, as they also have little or no impact on the international market.
Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is also of the rich that colludes with the government to defraud the masses, destroy public corporations and infrastructures in order to import alternative goods. The rich set up few enterprises and often pay peanuts to their employees in order to increase their wealth; culminating into increase in poverty and under-employment in the country.
The government of advanced countries often invest billion of dollars on education and research, so they always have intellectuals who will offer innovative products and services to the world. These products and services are initially developed into small scale businesses as they many even grow into large enterprises. Nigeria keeps wasting hard earned funds on Small and Medium Scale (SME) development, yet the businesses are nowhere to be found.
Only an insane will keep doing the same thing the same way and expect a different result. Am yet to see a nation that got developed by investing so little on the education of her youth and students but spend so much on SME propaganda. Still searching for a nation that gave nothing more than mere, non-professional, common, stark and non-sophisticated skills/training to her youth and achieved rapid industrial development.
Did America achieved greatness by emphasising on vocational trainings on how to make shoe polish, bake cake, produce detergents, event decorations, frying akara and establishment of football viewing centres? Did Britain get it right by teaching her youth how to start a beer palour and salon businesses or by ensuring technological dynamism? I wondered if it were mere phone repair training was what brought China among world’s mobile phone producers. Over and over again, I see entrepreneurship and vocational education as a scam.
Take a look at the furniture industry in Nigeria, you’ll discover it is almost dead because foreign furniture has flooded the Nigerian market. Foreign furniture makers have been able to introduce much variety of products with various designs, even at exorbitant prices, yet people still buy them. Imported furniture attains this much because modern machines are regularly produced to make new designs of furniture, but here in Nigeria, we only buy simple tools. We don’t engage in design and manufacture of machines/tools to be used in the furniture industry, so we are perpetually making furniture that cannot compete with the foreign ones. It is only engineering that provides modern machines, stark entrepreneurship cannot.
Every sector of the Nigerian economy has been badly affected by the erroneous policy of entrepreneurship and vocational education. From the agricultural sector to the transportation sector, from manufacturing to education, from construction to entertainment, name it, we have rendered our nation incapacitated when it comes to production of goods and services, just because we keep executing this lame practice.
I wonder why we have not given so much vocational training to professional operating as doctors, nurses and pharmacist in the medical field. We give this set of people trainings that can make them compete favourably with their foreign counterpart. I believe it should appear proper to the government to substitute entrepreneurship and vocational education with the training they receive in the teaching hospitals. The government (after emptying the laboratories and workshops of polytechniques and universities) substituted requisite training for our engineers and scientist with entrepreneurship and vocational training, so they are rendered handicapped when it comes to provision of modern goods and services as well as job creation.
It is high time we changed our job creation policy of entrepreneurship and vocational studies to provision of qualitative education at all levels, especially science and technology education so that Nigerian graduates would possess requisite modern and sophisticated skills for our nation. It is only qualitative education and intensive research that can initiate intellectual thinking for creation of innovative goods and services.
Let the laboratories and workshops of our secondary schools and higher institutions be adequately equipped with modern facilities so as to provide avenues for learning practicals. We need to replicate the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who utilised the qualitative education they obtained in the tetiary institutions to create worldwide business ventures in their fields.
The entrepreneurship Nigeria needs is one in which graduates of electrical engineering can produce transformers, power generation turbines, alternators, televisions from local technologies. Metallurgical engineers must be able to produce steel for oil and gas pipelines as well as in train and car manufacturing. Combustion engines, pumps, hydraulic and pneumatic parts must be what our mechanical engineers must be able to manufacture from their companies. Businesses of agricultural science graduates should able to feed the nation cos they should be empowered to do so.
Adeyemo Olajire Philip