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SKILL AND COMPETENCY ACQUISITION

September 10, 2011

SKILL AND COMPETENCY ACQUISITION THROUGH SYMBOLS-BASED PROJECTS OF CEDAP, AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI: A SYNTHESIS

BY

1 2 3
TPL. JIMAH, M.S.* ; MRS. JIMAH,K.Q.; DR.(MRS). EBELE ONWUKA.

1. DIRECTOR, CEDAP, AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI. EDO STATE.
2. AUCHI POLYTECHNIC AUCHI, EDO STATE.
3. FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC, OKO. ANAMBRA STATE.

ABSTRACT
In the bid to eradicate poverty, check high unemployment rate, and imbue graduates of Nigeria tertiary institutions with suitable employability skills to adapt them to the needs of the labour markets in order to further boost small and medium scale enterprises, create wealth, and empower our youths, the federal government through the Ministry of Education in 2007 made entrepreneurship development study a compulsory course requisite for graduation. Years into the introduction of this initiative, no proper evaluation has been done to assess the level of skill and competences acquired by the students in view of the enormous resources voted into the programme, and also to determine how much equip are the students to create a niche for themselves given little impetus in the labour market. Therefore, this paper attempts to assess the programme outputs, and students skill acquisition in Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi with the aim of evolving best practices that would enhance continuous professional development in the impartation of skills. The research elicited data from the student that were analyzed . A random sample size of 250 HND2 students representing about 10%, showed that though, the students appreciate the course and its contents, they insisted that the practical tools for it were absent and that some facilitators do not seem to have the requisite practical experience and therefore unable to carry students along during teaching. This paper recommends that practical workshops, laboratories and practical training units be established in line with the various practical products taught and competent resource persons employed to man them. This will go a long way in improving skill acquisition and widen the employability prospects of graduates which will in turn reduce poverty and check high unemployment rate, the paper concluded.

Keywords; Graduates; Skills; Employability

*Corresponding Author.

1.0 INTRODUCTION
Entrepreneurship development hold the promise for developing countries quest for economic growth in the globalized world. Small and big organizations including multinationals, which every economy depend on, started off as an entrepreneurial idea or initiative. Economic development within the context of developed or developing countries like Nigeria must nourish itself through related issues of entrepreneurship, as a function of an enabling environment.(Emmanuel, 2008)
Entrepreneurship and economic development in Nigeria rest on the tripod of an entrepreneurial enabling environment, a sound entrepreneurial culture and education that promotes and sustain entrepreneurial undertakings. This involves the acquisition of skills and competences.
The importance of sound entrepreneurial education based on functional research and development cannot be overemphasized. In most industrialized countries, policy makers and educational planners have seen entrepreneurial education as one of the drivers of entrepreneurship and economic development. Many universities and other institutions of higher learning in other parts of the world serves as incubators for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial education emphasizes the acquisition of certain skills which centre around the concept of innovation and creative process, financing, control, opportunity identification, venture, evaluation and deal making. The encouragement to start a venture can further be stimulated by institutions and teachers, who can significantly influence individuals to regard entrepreneurship as a desirable and viable career path. Schools with exciting courses and capacity development centre in entrepreneurship development tend to create the enabling entrepreneurship environment.
Proctor and Dutta (1995) define skill as “goal- directed, well-organized behavior that is acquired through practice and performed with economy of effort” while Boon and Vander klick (2002) describes competence as a “fuzzy concept” and acknowledge it as a useful term, bridging the gap between education and job requirements. The availability of persons with required skills and competences is a necessity for development. The training of such human resources is the major function that the Polytechnic system of education is meant to perform. For example, the Act establishing. Polytechnics in Nigeria in its Section 2 (a) state that: The functions of each Polytechnic shall be:

(a) To provide full time or part time courses of instructive and training in,
(i) Technology, Applied Science, Commence and Management.

(ii) In such other fields as applied learning relevant to the needs and
development of Nigeria in the areas of industrial and agricultural
production and distribution and for research in the development and
adaptation of techniques…………

Put succinctly, the Polytechnics by their mode of training are meant to produce graduates who will be relevant to the industry, but should also be capable of establishing, themselves in their own productive ventures and creating jobs for others. To further reinforce this mandate, the Federal Government of Nigeria through it Education ministry made entrepreneurship development study a compulsory course requisite for graduation. However, years after the introduction of the programmes, our educational system still produce graduates who lack basic entrepreneur skills to innovate existing process or idea. The question now is whether the Polytechnic system is meeting up with this challenge of training manpower capable of applying their learning to the relevant Nigerian’s development in the areas of industrial, technological and agricultural production and distribution? Finding answers to this question through the evaluation of centre for entrepreneurship development (CEDAP) programme is the object of this paper.

2.0 AIM AND OBJECTIVES.
This study focuses on the evaluation of the impact of CEDAP Auchi Polytechnic entrepreneurship programme on student competency and skill acquisition.
The objectives of the study include:-

(a). The determination of students aptitude for entrepreneurship.
(b). Evaluate students perception of the CEDAP training and resources.
(c). The constraint of the programme in achieving the desired training and impartation.

3.0 METHODOLOGY AND ANALYSIS

This study adopted a survey based approach to elicit data through questionnaire administration from the graduating (HND 11) students of the 2009/2010 academic session. The sample carried the two major programme of the school (full and part time studies) across departments. In all, 250 students were randomly sampled from the student records data base. The student were sourced, identified and given questionnaires to fill and return through their respective coordinators. These questionnaires were collated and analyzed. Focused group discussion was used to gain insight further on the students’ perception of the programme. The analyzed data are hereunder stated and discussed.

4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS.

One of the key virtues of focusing knowledge, skills and competences, is that these relates to learning outcomes or outputs, irrespective of the routes of acquisition involved rather than learning outputs (Winterton J. et al, 2005). Results and discussions presents data collected and carries out an indebt analysis for meaningful, conclusion to be drawn out. The responses from the field form the basis of the analysis and discussions and these are done under the following sub-heads.

(a) Choice of courses and the roles of Entrepreneurship studies:

The choice of courses by students has a relationship with the roles of entrepreneurship studies (Toby, 2008). If students were well guided abinitio, it would have been possible to tailor their career choices along with entrepreneurship skills and competences . However, entrepreneurship studies have now become a must via a presidential directive irrespective of the course of study. (Jimah, 2010). The choice of course of study of the student interviewed is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: CHOICE OF COURSES OF STUDY

Motivation No. of Respondents %
Self’s wish 230 92.0
Parents wish 10 4.0
As a last resort 10 4.0
Others Nil -
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

From table one, it is clear that the choice of career or field of study is mostly attributed to the wish of individual students with 230 students out of 250 interviewed or 92% saying so. Further from table 2, responses indicate that all the students do agree that Entrepreneurship studies have sharpened their skills for businesses.

Table 2; DOES ENTREPRENEURSHIP STUDIES SHARPEN SKILLS FOR
BUSINESSES?
Response No %
Yes 250 100
No Nil -
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey 2010

Also from table 3, all the students interviewed agree that the introduction of Entrepreneurship studies (EED) into the curriculum have been good and beneficial.

Table 3; IS EED INTRODUCTION ANY GOOD?
Response No %
Yes 250 100
No Nil -
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

It suffice to conclude therefore, that through, most student look to their career choices themselves, they agree that the course have be beneficial

(b) Impact of EED on students:-

At this point, the impact Entrepreneurship studies and how well knowledge is imparted is looked at. From tables 4 and 5, responses got from students as to how they assimilate what they are taught and how well their practical projects which is a core area is carried out are shown.

Table 4: TEACHING OF THE SUBJECT

Response No. %
Well Taught 250 100
Not well taught Nil 00
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

Table 5: ARE PRACTICAL EXERCISES WELL GUIDED?

Response No. %
Yes 30 12.00
No 220 88.00
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

From Table 4, all the students interviewed agree that the subject is well taught although, 220 students representing 88% state clearly that the practical exercises are not well guided as shown in Table 5. The impact of the subject though good, the practical areas need improvement they argue.

(c) Adequacy of skills and competences imparted.

The final expectation of learning is that the students understand fully what they have been taught and put it to use so as to improve their lives and sharpen their skills to be self-reliant and fulfilled (Toby ,2008). To achieve this, one must look the adequacy of the tools for practicals, consumables allocated and even the time given for such practicals as the mastering and production of a product is the ultimate goal of the practicals exercises in entrepreneurship studies. These are shown in Tables 6, 7 and 8.

Table 6: ADEQUACY OF TIME FOR PRACTICALS

Response No %
Time is Adequate Nil 00
Time is inadequate 250 100%
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

Table 7: ADEQUACY OF CONSUMABLES FOR PRACTICALS

Response No. %
Adequate Nil 00
In-adequate 250 100
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey 2010

Table 8: ADEQUACY OF TOOLS FOR PRACTICALS

Response No %
Adequacy Nil 00
In -adequate 250 100
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey 2010

From Tables 6, 7 and 8, it is clear that the time given for practicals, the consumables allocated and the tools for such practicals are all inadequate in Auchi Polytechnic. According to Emmanuel (2008), the success of entrepreneurship practical project is a function of the adequacy of time, tools and materials allocated for it. A reason that can be adduced for this shortcoming is the fact that until recently according to Oladepo, (1990) our educational policies and training programme in this country, have not been properly tailored to address the needs of our economy as graduates lack the required skills and knowledge to fit into the computer world of today .Collaborating this, TWG (2004) stated that , the objectives of a learning pathway are expressed as learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skill and competences to be acquired and mastered at a given reference level. There is need therefore to give this area a review.

(d) Types of projects:

The types of projects carried out by students as practicals fall into two main categories. These are production areas which include, fabrication, glass table/stools, palmoil, cake, cast Aluminum pots, tie and dye, soap making, rake doors, cement blocks, garri ,palm slippers etc. and service areas like barbers saloon, welding, fashion design, repair of handsets, fast foods etc. According to Hisrich, et al (2008), entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new with value by devoting necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychic and social risks and receiving rewards for monetary and personal satisfaction and independence. Anything new therefore including services is entrepreneurship (Jimah 2010)

From Table 9, it is clear that students in production areas for exceed those in the service area.

Table 9: PRACTICAL AREAS BY STUDENTS

Practical Areas No. %
Production 202 80.80
Service 48 19.20
Both Nil 00
Total 250 100%
Source: Field survey, 2010

From table 9, 202 persons or 80.80% are in the production area while 48 or 19.20% are in the service areas.

5.0 RECOMMENDATIONS.

Having analyzed and discussed the findings, it is imperative that some recommendations are suggested to address some of the challenges discovered in the skill and acquisition process . The following are suggested.
(a) There is absolute and urgent need to establish practical workshops, laboratories and practical training units in line with various practical products taught.
(b) Competent resource persons should be employed to main the various practicals units establish and these units should be maintained efficiently.
(c) Students should be given adequate consumables to meet the needs of their practical products. Students should be allowed to participate in the procurement of consumables, know their costs as this will help in fixing of product prices during sales of finished products which they should be part of, to complete the entrepreneurship process.
(d) Time allowed for practicals in skill and competency acquisition should not only be enough ,it should be explicit and uniform in all tertiary institutions while grading of finishing products should follow a drawn format all over.
(e) Practical tools should be provided for various product units to enhance quality production and help students work within the approved time frame.

6.0 CONCLUSION:

Skills and competence acquisition has been discovered to be a sin-qua-non not only to the development of the individual to be self-reliant and fulfilled but also a necessity to national development. The paper discussed the acquisition of skills and competence through practical projects of CEDAP. It highlighted the challenges in the process and proffered practical and urgent solutions to address these challenges. It is hoped that the recommendations will be implemented systematically to give the desired results of developing the individuals who will be engaged profitably but also the country at large and help in the reduction of anti-social behaviors currently ravaging the Nigerian state.

REFERENCES

Boon J and Vander Klink M. (2002): Competences: The triumph of a fuzzy concept’
Academy of Human Resource Development Annual Conference, Honlulu, HA
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Emmanuel C.L. (2008). entrepreneurship. A conceptual Approach. 2nd Edition..
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Jimah M.S. (2010), “Innovative approaches to students entrepreneurial outputs in
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Oladepo S.A. (1990). “Promotion of Employment in contemporally Nigeria:
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Winterton .J.; Delamare- le Desit F.; Stringfellow, E. (2005). Typology of
knowledge, skills and competences: Clarification of the concept and
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