World Youth Skills Day: How Okowa Rejuvenated Vocational Education In Delta State

By Fortune Ngozi Onwordi

The increasing rate of youth unemployment is one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world, for developed and developing countries alike. The latest Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs shows that since 2017, there has been an upward trend in the number of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET). In Delta State, the case was not different until 2015 when His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa was elected as the Executive Governor of Delta State.

According to a United Nations Assessment, in 2016, there were 259 million young people classified as NEET – a number that rose to an estimated 267 million in 2019, and is projected to continue climbing to around 273 million in 2021. In terms of percentage, the trend was also slightly up from 21.7% in 2015 to 22.4% in 2020 – implying that the international target to reduce the NEET rate by 2020 could be missed.

After Gov. Okowa's inauguration and in accordance with his administration's SMART Agenda and promise of prosperity for all Deltans, Gov. Okowa initiated the revival of technical and vocational education across the three Senatorial Districts in the state. The vehicle to drive the promised prosperity was Technical and Vocational education which prepares people with requisite skills to work in various jobs, such as trade, craft, or as a technician. The move has today heralded a drastic reduction in the unemployment rate among young people in the state. The bill for creation of vocational education would later be passed by the State Assembly.

Today, there are 13 certificate awarding Technical Colleges and Vocational Institutions equipped with modern technology and qualified teachers, in all the Senatorial Districts of the state.

The Technical Schools are: Technical College Agbor, Technical College Sapele, Technical College Ogor, Technical College Issele-Uku, Technical College Ofagbe and Technical College Kwale.
While the Vocational Institutions are located in Ozoro, Bula, Asaba, Egbokodo and Afesere.

The development has created a paradigm shift in the education sector, as students now register in these institutions of learning and acquire skills which not only makes them employable but also prepares them to become employers of labour. Upon graduation, the graduands are provided with a cash gift and starter packs to start up their own businesses depending on the skills acquired. In the years to come, Delta State will begin to provide the skilled manpower required to drive Nigeria's technological revolution.

The courses offered in the vocational schools with certification include: Electrical and Installation, Motor/Auto Repair and Maintenance, Building Technology, Catering, Bead making, Welding and Fabrication, Hair Dressing, Fashion Design and all kinds of general craft.

 "We are equipping our children to acquire skills, to be equipped for the future, the schools are going beyond the training to be involved in production activities" Okowa stated in an interview.

The State Chairman for Technical And Vocational Education Board (TVEB) Mrs. Obanor Clara said the initiative will provide employment for Deltans who according to her "are roaming about". She said with the skills they acquire, they can start up something and go on to employ others are they grow.
The Skills Acquisition Programme of His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has provided an opportunity for young people to acquire technical and vocational education and training. This has not only created jobs but job creators accross the state.
Today, as we celebrate the the World Youth Skills Day, we recognise and appreciate the giant strides of Gov. Okowaed administration in equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.

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