By Chinaka Okoro
The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), has endorsed the Handbook of Skill Acquisition Training and Empowerment Programmes as a national resource material on entrepreneurship, skill acquisition programmes, micro, small and medium-scale enterprises development. It also recommended the same handbook for institutions across the country.
The approval of the handbook which was written by Dr Benjamin Onoriode Irikefe was contained in a letter by the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu.
The Handbook of Skill Acquisition Training and Empowerment Programmes is the first holistic book written on skill acquisition the world over.
The 826-page book was unveiled on April 13, 2017, at the International Conference Centre Abuja. As a result of popular demands, the production of a 1,074-page Second Edition of the handbook became imperative. It was unveiled at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on July 23 2019.
Committed to improving the nation’s economy and aiding its exit from recession, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has placed emphasis on the promotion of Entrepreneurship and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) activities as one of its cardinal agendas. The administration also believes that it would be a platform for boosting the nation’s economy and wealth and job creation.
That the Handbook can be regarded as an encyclopaedia on Skill Acquisition and Empowerment depicts its economic and academic relevances. The book will be useful for trainers and trainees of skill acquisition programmes, students of tertiary institutions and lecturers, military and security agencies, training institutions and personnel as well as all-purpose readers.
As a strategy to reduce graduate unemployment, the author advocates that technical and vocational education be taught in conventional academic curriculums, to enable graduates of tertiary institutions to have vocational specific trades (VSTs) and MSMEs that will enable them to eke out a living after graduation.
Handbook of Skill Acquisition Training and Empowerment Programmes chronicles the author’s well over 28 years’ involvement in the training and management of non-militant, restive and ex-militant youths, and women.
The book explains specific key elements of skill acquisition training and empowerment programmes some of which include a holistic skill acquisition training and empowerment programme should comprise four components: vocation specific training; soft and life skill training; entrepreneurship development training and post-training empowerment; a proper exposition of intellectual capital that comprises human capital, structural capital and relational capital, are needed in skill acquisition programmes; that graduates of skill acquisition programmes should receive their starter packs before they leave the training centres and should comprise support and vocation specific components, and that vocational and technical education should be taught alongside conventional academic curricula so that graduates can be equipped with vocation specific trades.
Other issues the author emphasised on include the fact that all departments in academic institutions should develop vocation specific trades or MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) out of the various academic curricula, the students can get engaged in after graduation; operationalisation and reporting templates are needed for effective and successful training programmes; critical success entities must consolidate their interventions from skill acquisition up to post-training empowerment through institutional collaborations to lift MSMEs and artisanal training outfits and artisans.
For optimal use of the programme, the author noted that trainers should be proactive, accommodating and passionate when managing trainees and also avoid the commodification of training programmes.
He also advised that there is great need to institutionalise the resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation of insurgency-devastated territories and people even as he recommended that Sambisa Joint Development Territory (SJDT) should be developed using Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to make the Sambisa Forest a security fort and economic powerhouse for Nigeria rather than leaving it to degenerate into safe haven for terrorists and other criminal elements.
As a result of the significance of the handbook, the Revised Second Edition, which has been tagged “Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) Approved Edition,” there is a nationally approved Handbook that can contribute to the exiting of Nigeria from socio-economic doldrums when widely utilised alongside other government policies.
The Handbook of Skill Acquisition Training and Empowerment Programmes has addressed the interest of diverse stakeholders, organisations and the general public. Any wonder world-renowned academics have praised the book outstandingly.
For instance, Prof. Olukayode Yekin Ogunsanwo of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Ibadan has described the handbook as “a masterpiece, produced by an erudite trainer and a competent coach. It presents a comprehensive text on the principles, fundamentals and the practices of skill acquisition for myriads of distressed and volatile members of the society. It was meticulously written to provide information on a broad spectrum of training and empowerment programmes.
“The book is a must-read for policymakers and special coaches; especially the trainers of unemployed graduates, National Youth Service Corps members, restive youths, and ex-agitators/militants, among others.”
In the same manner Professor Omole Adeboye Joseph of the Obafemi Awolowo University Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Moore Plantation, Ibadan described the book thus: “The author is a teacher, instructor, counsellor and a man of integrity. He has written and published a lot on skill acquisition. The book sheds light on what skill acquisition is all about. It covers the importance; it answers when, why, how, what about empowerment. The book is recommended for the teeming youths, men and women, private and public organisations.”
With the publication of the Revised Second Edition by the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), the general public and organisations, have an approved resource material on Entrepreneurship, Skill Acquisition and MSMEs Development that has multiple applicability.