By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has commissioned the Kwara state-owned International Vocational Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC), Ajase- Ipo in Irepodun local government area of the state.
Osinbajo, who was in the state on a one-day working visit, endorsed the IVTEC’s model for vocational training of the Nigerian youths, saying the federal government would support and canvass for the replication of IVTEC in all the states of the federation.
Osinbajo hailed the foresight of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, noting that the programmes and curriculum of the college were tailored towards ” the exact needs of the country “.
The Vice President, therefore, called for the establishment of such technical centres across the country.
He condemned importation of skilled artisans from neighbouring West African countries into the country, saying that Nigeria has a huge number of talented youths with aggressive mind to succeed in trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.
He noted that the country had, before now, lacked technical centres tailored around existing talents of Nigerian youths and needs of the country.
The Vice President, who said that the federal government would see to it that the college was replicated across states in the country, added that the vision for establishment of the college tallied with the agenda of the Buhari administration of producing all we consume in the country.
He, however, said that Nigeria needed an industrial base to maximise potential and talents of the youths for optimal local production, adding that Nigeria should tap into the potential of the Nigerian youths for greater change in the country.
Osinbajo, who described IVTEC as one of the major important projects any government could undertake, said that the certificate that the college would issue to its students would be of international standard because of IVTEC’s partnership with notable international organisations like the City & Guilds, London, Alfred State College of technology, US, University of Wolverhampton and Praxis Atlantis.
“The vision of the College to give right type of skill and international certificate that will enable graduates to work in any part of the world is commendable. The partnership with international organisations will also make graduates saleable to the benefit of the country”, he said.
The vice president called on other states of the federation to emulate Kwara state on the project.
Earlier, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed had said that the College was purposefully established to equip youths with skills for self-reliance, tackle unemployment, and ease access to vocational training of international standard for students from a variety of skills and educational backgrounds.
He said: “Globally, Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training has been identified as critical to growth, especially industrialization. As you are aware, Nigeria’s previous experimentation with technical education has faulted in the face of neglect and an expanding gap between the schools’ curricula and the needs of the economy.
“Indeed, we are already partnering with the World Bank to train 17,000 youths identified as vulnerable in the state, starting with an initial 80 students.
“Regardless of educational background, IVTEC will prepare students for the globally-renowned City and Guilds of London qualification, National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB) certification and other vocation-specific qualifications.
“City and Guilds of London certification is especially critical to our efforts to economically empower our youths as holders are employable locally, nationally and internationally.
“To adequately prepare students for their vocation, graduating IVTEC students will be further trained at five incubation centers across the three senatorial districts of the state where they will be exposed to mentorship and real-life business situations.
“They will thereafter be clustered into vocation-specific cooperatives and provided access to affordable credit to start or expand existing businesses under our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) scheme.
“On graduation, students will also be designated as Master Artisans and be in the vanguard on our determination to reverse the trend where carpenters, painters and builders and other tradesmen are imported from neighboring countries instead of engaging people locally. This is even more alarming in view of the high rates of youth unemployment in the country.
“Determined to reverse this trend, IVTEC’s curriculum was designed in partnership with the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) to ensure that the skills taught here are those required in the local and national economy.
“In consonance, our resolve is to make Kwara State a net exporter of vocational and technical skills once local needs have been met and thus make our country the hub of vocational skills in West Africa.
“To achieve these aims, a strong management structure is required. We have put in place a robust ownership and partnership arrangement to ensure the college’s long-term sustainability. Though established, owned and promoted by the Kwara State Government, IVTEC is operated as a stand-alone organization which is governed by a board of trustees comprising professionals in relevant fields.
“Already, the college is leveraging on global partnerships with companies, universities and international organizations to ensure sustained operations and insulation from fluctuations in government priorities.
“This will ensure the school can benefit from a variety of private, local, national and international collaborations. Our emphasis in this regard is already yielding results with several globally-renowned companies and organisations indicating interest in partnering IVTEC.
“On our part, we have invested approximately N3.2 billion on campus construction, furniture, fittings, partnerships, basic training equipment and tools here at IVTEC. An additional N13b is however required to cover IVTEC’s expansion plans in the next 5 years. We therefore seek the partnerships from local, national and internal bodies so that we can upscale IVTEC to the level envisaged as its establishment.”