The Importance of Vocational Education in Nigeria

Vocational training in Nigeria
Written by Robin Okwanma

If one may ask, is education a necessity to succeed in life? Yes of course it is. However, there are different types of education. It seems much of our attention in the Nigerian curriculum had been unnecessarily focused on theoretical knowledge for many years, until recently. It became clearer everyday that practical money-making skills acquired through vocational education in Nigeria, is a fast-track to beating poverty. High unemployment statistics in the country has made it important for as many people as possible to undergo vocational education in Nigeria.


Vocational Education in Nigeria: A Necessity

The global tax and advisory company KPMG presented a report tagged the International Global Economy Outlook Report – H1 in April 2023. The report stated that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as of 2022, stood at an estimated 37.7%. Furthermore, the tax firm made a forecast that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is expected to rise to 40.6% in 2023. As reported by Nigeria’s Channels Television, KPMG declared that:

“unemployment is expected to continue to be a major challenge in 2023 due to the limited investment by the private sector, low industrialization, and slower than required economic growth and consequently the inability of the economy to absorb the 4-5 million new entrants into the Nigerian job market every year”.

The undue emphasis on theoretical knowledge in the Nigerian educational curriculum hampered the money-making capacity of millions of educated citizens. That trend did not prepare many youths to earn a living by acquiring entrepreneurial skills or practical vocational skills. This visionless trend has made many Nigerians to remain below the poverty level, out of ignorance. As they could not put vocational skills to work in order to earn money, and in the absence of paid employment. 

But the poor economic outlook of the country in recent times has forced more people to acquire vocational skills out of necessity. Thousands of Nigerians now troop to online and offline training institutes and skill acquisition centers of diverse forms everyday.  Additionally, several cases of entrepreneurs who have escaped poverty and unemployment woes using their vocational skills are now rife. An increasing number of Nigerians now find financial succor from embarking on one vocation (or trade) or another as a side hustle. Thus choosing to abandon their original academic qualifications that did not profit them in the job search market. 

Vocational Education: The Definition

The UNESCO world site defines vocational education as:

Education that is designed for learners to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies specific to a particular occupation or trade or class of occupations or trades.”

The EHL Hospitality Business School website further simplifies the description of vocational education, in saying:

Vocational education is a different learning option from the path of college or universities. It offers a path that imparts the skills and knowledge needed to work in a given occupation. It is coordinated with the requirements of the labor market and is an integral part of the education system.

“While college education often provides theoretical or broad knowledge that could be applied to a variety of professions within a certain field, vocational training teaches students the precise skills and knowledge needed to carry out a specific craft, technical skill or trade, such as plumbing or cooking.

College education often includes courses on a variety of subjects that may not directly relate to a student’s major and that a graduate may not use in their career. Vocational school, on the other hand, skips this type of broad academic study and instead provides direct knowledge and instruction for a specific field or position.”

A Case for Including Vocational Education in the Nigerian Educational Curriculum

It is critically recommended for vocational education to be integrated into the Nigerian educational system, right from the primary school level. This is very possible and achievable. For many years, the majority of Nigerians that excelled in vocational skills were either uneducated people or primary/secondary school dropouts. This meant a good number of them learnt how to manage and invest their money wisely from an early age. And therefore skilled entrepreneurs were gaining and multiplying their resources, and could fend well for themselves and their families. They could also weather the storm of changing economic situations by planning ahead. 

It has also come to the point that many entrepreneurs trained in vocational skills have done so well for themselves. So many less-educated entrepreneurs are now the employers of well-educated people, who they pay to manage their businesses. The value of college and university certificates have almost become laughable in the face of such a reality.  

Benefits of Acquiring Vocational Education in Nigeria

Lower Cost of Education

Vocational education has provided a cheaper alternative to students who cannot afford to pay the high tuition fees of standard tertiary institutions. Neither do they have to borrow loans to complete their education. 

Produces Employees Who are Job-Ready 

Through vocational education, students are made to acquire specialized skills and practical knowledge. Much of these skills are based on a curriculum developed out of the curated findings from employers around town. This means the relevant and currently-needed practical skills desired by employers are taught to the students. By the end of their course work, the trainees emerge job-ready and with broad knowledge to handle their jobs effectively. Often, they can handle their jobs far better than fresh graduates without (or with less of the same) the same practical skills. 

Enhanced Career Success

Vocational education is an excellent alternative for working professionals, who cannot pause their jobs to embark on a full college degree course. It would require less time to study. But nevertheless the additional acquired skills, knowledge and qualifications would empower such professionals to perform better at their jobs. Acquiring vocational education can thus promote career success for working professionals – in lieu of a full college degree.

Higher Chances of Employment

Vocational education can improve chances of getting employment, over and beyond presenting the regular graduate qualifications. When a job seeker has the requisite vocational training that an employer needs, clearly he/she is immediately useful to that employer. Such an applicant likely needs little or no extra training to handle the job – he/she is job-ready. That puts less burden of job orientation on the employer.

Business Ownership (Entrepreneurship) Ability

Very often, operators of these vocational institutes provide startup instruments and cash, for their students upon graduation. Thus, they encourage and support business ownership right from the start. Vocational education has been largely responsible for the proliferation of small businesses. This further boosts the economy, and the earning power of the citizens – reducing dependency on the government.


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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.