Technical and Vocational Education and Training, otherwise called TVET, has the real potential to solve a lot of problems facing the country today—lack of skilled manpower in the many sectors and the rising youth unemployment in particular.

The labour ministry’s multi-cohort tracer survey has found that there is demand-supply mismatch—there is a steady flow of TVET graduates every year but no takers.

This has always been the case. In a society where civil service jobs are made more attractive, now with political parties promising salary rise for civil service employees, such a reality is bound to take root in the system.

What are the immediate and long-term implications?

With an ever-increasing need for skilled workers, so the shortage. It has become all too convenient for many agencies and organisations in the country to blame Covid-19 for their failure to deliver the services they ought to, by right and responsibility.

Data gathered from the two cohorts (2016-2018 and 2013-2015), the graduates were asked to rate the relevance of the TVET training programmes in the labour market on four scales—poor, fair, good, and very good. Clarity or intelligibility is one thing. Viewed from a better-perched vantage point, it means the survey could have been a little more informative and unconventional.

This is the picture of complacency that is taking root in the system. How this is finding a fecund ground to grow is a different matter altogether. Failing to chart a vision of development—short-, medium-, and long-term—will invite a serious problem in the near future. That’s the real danger.

But then, that we even have a reading from a tracer survey will do us many good.

Self-sufficiency is a national dream; it has been since the first day of the five-year plan in 1961. Why is it still a dream?

There are two things that we need to achieve urgently as we look forward—skills (hard and soft) development and agriculture. Achieving these two national dreams, we are secure.

So long as TVET is placed way down low, we will continue to face the same problem. So with agriculture. But what is by far more important is that such vitally important national dreams should find sound footing. What’s holding us back?

TVET has to be the lead because it has the potential to address the urgent needs of the country. We have a lot to more to do to bring our soul and role together. This whole affair, sometimes, is called nation-building.

Are we investing in it enough?