In the wave of a digital-infused economy, raising a technical-driven workforce for the future of work is most pertinent. The Federal Government of Nigeria has reiterated the need to drive this initiative with the recent target of one million Nigerians in technical talent training. This was in line with the mandate of the Presidency’s goal of creating two (2) million digital jobs. In bringing this vision to fruition, the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy provided a robust framework to train 1 million technical talents over the next three years.
Scaling this initiative to meet talent needs and opportunities, the Honourable Minister for Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, congregated forty start-ups for a workshop to discuss strategic frameworks, actionable plans, and the long-term sustainability of roadmaps in technical training. The central goal is the contribution of shared insights on technical training models, inclusive stakeholder engagement, and documentation of themes for extensive collaboration with key players (academic institutions and regulators, implementers, development agencies, and funders) and delivery partners necessary for the impact.
The 1M technical training co-creation report highlighted six (6) different areas necessary for actualizing the set roadmap. This includes an adaptive framework for identifying technical skills, recognizing system and infrastructure gaps, developing a viable and efficient training framework, and establishing a framework for talent placements. For framework alignment, the report captured a monitoring and evaluation framework and a sustainability framework. These key thematic areas are steps to the strategic initiative needed to understand and offer solutions to skill gaps and the digital divide for sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria.
Key highlights from the Six Compass
- Modern technology and its application for technical competence with skills in both soft and hardware formed the first framework for identifying technical skills. Potential areas of tech-enabled skills, tech-adjacent skills, and skill gap analysis for evolving digital frontiers were clearly cut out.
- Recognizing system and infrastructure gaps required an understanding of two key concepts: accessibility (connectivity, physical learning centers, financial constraints, and an uneven educational system landscape) and awareness (sociocultural norms, knowledge deficiency, and poor data integration for informed decisions).
- Delivery of inclusive training would take place through training providers that have the required programs in place to increase the capacity of their instructors and support initiatives in the areas of upgrading training hubs, inclusive financing models, and network connectivity with service providers.
- Recognized job placement creatives through a digital platform that acts as a training talent registry for opportunities for direct placement, a chance for cohorts to have strong and respectable curriculum vitae, and incentive packages for organizations, SMEs, and outsourcing businesses that hire talent.
- Different levels of assessment were highlighted in the monitoring and evaluation schedule, including collaboration on feedback to achieve set targets across levels, placement efficiency, quality assurance of training models, audits of trading providers, and periodic performance reviews.
- The sustainability model is critical to government-led initiatives. Private sector commitment and higher education institution involvement, as well as funding support, were identified as pathways to strengthening the training process and execution for continuity.
Delivering Technical Training for Global Impact
As the ministry gets set for the next phase of action in creating a resilient, effective, and inclusive framework for technical training for youths to thrive in the digital age, the following issues are pertinent:
- Convening a pool of key players and delivery partners in the co-creation, implementation, and execution phases. Identify the specific partners who have direct access to the target audience and understand their requirements and expectations, taking into account their current skill levels and gaps for effective planning, implementation, and execution.
- Revamping curriculum development across tiers of learning should reflect both foundational and advanced technical skills relevant to and adaptable to emerging technologies and trends. Contents should accommodate innovation-centered modules and soft skills such as problem-solving and teamwork as essentials for success in the digital workforce. At the secondary school level, this technical training should complement the STEMI initiative with the acronym “I,” representing innovation through which young creative minds and knowledge can be tailored for global prosperity in the digital era.
- An inclusive and efficient training framework should embrace a diverse audience, regardless of background, gender, age, or physical abilities. For effective teaching skills, partnered ecosystem facilities like co-working spaces, venture studios, innovation hubs, and incubator/accelerator camps will fast-track and bridge learning gaps in areas with limited online facilities like IDP camps, rural areas, and underserved communities. This promotes a culture of leaving no one behind for continuous learning and being updated on the latest technologies and teaching methodologies. This creates pathways for national unity and the closure of skill gaps for social security, particularly for the underserved.
- Adapt the quadruple helix model in curriculum development, continuous assessment, certification internships, and job placement programs through partnerships with academia, government, industry players, and students. Synergy with higher education institutions (HEIs), other government bodies, for instance, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), and existing technical colleges on compulsory industrial training (IT) can be reintegrated to accommodate this initiative. This creates apprenticeship and internship programs that allow students to gain practical experience while studying. Offering industry-recognized certifications to validate students’ skills enhances employability prospects and builds the portfolio needed to create wealth and compete with peers globally.
- Innovation is the propelling force behind a sustainability model. The co-creation pathway from planning to execution and monitoring must incorporate innovative metrics. The technical training sustainability framework should speak to what is socially attainable and economically viable for shared prosperity in compliance with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8 of decent work and economic growth through industry, innovation, and infrastructure integration (SDG 9).
Rationale for Partnership in Co-Creating Technical Skills
Opolo Global is well positioned to collaborate and co-create with all other partners in the ecosystem to implement the roadmap. Opolo Global Innovation as a leading innovation enabler, incubator, and accelerator focuses on empowering talent to become innovators and providing platforms for innovators to scale and thrive while providing solutions to societal challenges. We create an environment to congregate entrepreneurs, investors, corporate entities, thought leaders, indigenous innovators, and startups to inspire sustained economic growth across the country. Through our key strategic initiatives, Talent as a Service (TaaS), Hub Management as a Service (HMaaS), and Research as a Service (RaaS), we bridge the digital divide and close skill gaps while contributing to economic growth and social impact.
With Opolo Global co-creating this initiative, the value proposition for incredible outcomes is, but is not limited to:
- promoting a creative and innovative approach to the technical training process, learning, and service; and advancing cutting-edge technologies, ideas, and organizational skills that respond to present digital needs.
- delivering innovation-based upskilling training kits that boost economic prosperity through access to technical and entrepreneurial resources on ventures driven by new ideas and technologies for global impact. We have a proven track record of programs delivered for social impact through our extensive knowledge and experience in acceleration and incubation programs.
- Our extensive collaboration with Nigerian tertiary institutions through established innovation hubs and partnered programs expands innovative opportunities, diversifies the talent pool, and facilitates seamlessly students’ engagement in the technical training for robust training delivery mechanisms. For enhanced co-creation of innovative activities and upskilling programs to advance and scale in the digital space, we have seven (7) innovation hubs across the nation’s institutions.
Creating a framework and roadmap for scaling talents and positioning for global impact through technical skills is crucial considering the future of work and Nigeria’s young demographic factor. With this framework at infant stage and as an ongoing process, the involvement and contribution of key players and ecosystem collaboration and adaptability on a global scale will set a clear pathway for a sustainable program.
Dr. Adesola Ikudayisi (Research for Innovation Coordinator at Opolo Global Innovation, Lagos, Nigeria)