Let me start by thanking the Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (GCON) for accepting our invitation to commission the International Vocational Technical and Entrepreneurship College, (IVTEC) Ajase-Ipo. Your Excellency’s presence here underlines the Federal Government’s strong commitment to growing entrepreneurship in the country and reflects your support for our determination to establish Kwara State as a hub for market relevant vocational skills and entrepreneurship.
From inception, our government has made human capital development, especially functional education of the youth, the pivot of our people-centric developmental agenda.
The reason is simple. Youths are the largest component of our population. To be successful and impactful, consequently, any programmed government effort must have at its core the economic empowerment of our youths, through jobs and entrepreneurship.
Our government’s programmes, therefore, are driven by need to engage as many of our youths as possible in the value chain of such interventions. This determination to equip our youths with vital skills also formed the primary basis for establishing the International Vocational Technical and Entrepreneurship College.
Indeed, when I laid the foundation stone of the College on September 11, 2012, the vision was to establish a College 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.
Today marks a milestone in the history of Kwara State as we take a huge leap towards our dream of providing multi-layered platforms for vocational and technical training to citizens and emerging as a sub-regional hub for skills. IVTEC offers a structured approach to providing youths with market-relevant skills and a reliable pathway to economic empowerment that prevents a descent into negative and destructive behavior often associated with unemployment.
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.
These lapses have resulted in an educational system that is neither robust enough to accommodate the aspiration of youths nor capable of preparing them for the increasingly competitive economic space.
And unless we act promptly, we risk the escalation of the scourge of unemployment into a serious malaise with grave security implications.
Our establishment of IVTEC is therefore driven by the need to offer the best Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training to our young people and prepare them for entrepreneurship or gainful employment.
IVTEC is doing this by benchmarking against global standards in vocational education but also through partnerships with globally recognized certification bodies such as City and Guilds of London.
The College is also partnering institutions like Alfred State College, New York and the University of Wolverhampton both of which have proven track-records in entrepreneurship and vocational education.
In line with the mission mentioned earlier, IVTEC is open to students with three basic skill levels. First, fresh school leavers seeking to acquire technical and vocational skills for setting up their businesses.
Two, tertiary education graduates who want to diversify into other fields by accessing new skills and, three, professionals seeking continuous professional development.
IVTEC’s recruitment of students will also target vulnerable and disadvantaged youths in the state to ensure their socio-economic circumstances do not become a barrier to their life aspirations.
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-renowed 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-renowed companies and organisations indicating interest in partnering IVTEC.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, cutting-edge Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training such as we aim to provide here, is expensive.
Saudi Arabia, for example, is investing over One Billion Pounds in the provision of about 40 Vocational Colleges across the kingdom to train its target of 400,000 youths by 2023.
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.
Mr. Vice President Sir, distinguished invited guests, what we are witnessing today is a testimony of the present Administration’s unalloyed commitment to guaranteeing a bright future for our teeming youths.
I now have the honour to invite His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria to deliver his address and commission the International Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC). Your Excellency, Sir.
Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed,
21st November, 2017
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