“TETFund’s National Employability Programme Empowers University Staff for Graduate Success”
The high unemployment rate in Nigeria has often been attributed, in part, to a lack of necessary skills among graduates, particularly in the industrial sector. To address this issue and ensure that students have the skills they need for successful employment, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) under the leadership of Arc. Sonny Echono has launched several programs to bridge knowledge gaps among both university staff and students.
One of these programs focuses on capacity building for staff in various units of participating tertiary institutions. Echono’s tenure has seen a dedicated effort to sustain these capacity building initiatives for both academic and non-academic university staff.
Recently, TETFund hosted a two-day Implementation Support Workshop for the National Employability Programme at its headquarters in Abuja. The primary goal of this workshop was to enhance the skills and knowledge of university staff in areas of skills and innovations. TETFund believes that by equipping staff with these skills, they can more effectively impart knowledge to students, ensuring they not only find jobs after graduation but also sustain meaningful employment.
The program’s design aligns with the recommendations from the National Employability Benchmarking Exercise report, submitted to TETFund by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Echono emphasized that the workshop was specifically designed to empower career officers from institutions that lack career services units and basic skills to establish such units.
To expedite the desired outcomes, the TETFund Executive Secretary revealed that the Fund is in the process of establishing entrepreneurship and innovation hubs in participating institutions across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. These hubs will foster connections with industries, promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and employability in line with global best practices.
These interventions, Echono stated, will transform these institutions into catalysts for knowledge creation, translating knowledge into practical products and services to address societal challenges.
Echono’s leadership at TETFund has been dedicated to forging essential connections between research, development, and innovation in tertiary institutions. He envisions a future where Nigerian tertiary institutions play a pivotal role in national and regional economic development by unlocking their knowledge potential to address critical societal issues.
The Employability Benchmarking Exercise report assesses employability across five dimensions: Relevance of Learning, Governance and Strategy, Employer Engagement, Career Services/Guidance, and Alumni Management.
Echono remarked, “The report reveals that the aggregate average score of Nigerian benchmark institutions across these dimensions is 2.3 out of 4.0, slightly above the global average of all benchmarked institutions (2.2).”
However, the report also points out that Nigerian universities lag behind in global best practices related to digital learning strategies, access to multidisciplinary databases, digital course reserves, and faculty digital skills. Echono called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to address these challenges.
The opening ceremony of the workshop featured Dina Nicholas, Head of Global Lead, Education and Employability Advisory at IFC. She emphasized the need to not only track the number of graduates but also improve programs to produce qualified, employable graduates. University authorities were encouraged to take steps to enhance programs that may face challenges in placing students in jobs.
Mr. Tope Toogun, Managing Director of Cognitive Advisory, highlighted the past efforts to address graduate unemployment in Nigeria. He expressed hope that, with experts in attendance, lasting solutions to graduate unemployment were on the horizon. The workshop aimed to provide actionable strategies to translate research findings into effective solutions for graduate employability.