An expert has called on the Federal Government to consider converting about 50 per cent of the universities in Nigeria into vocational centres to enable young people gain skills in different vocations.

Chief Executive Officer, Footprint to Africa, Mr. Osita Oparaugo, made the call in an interview with Vanguard on the sideline of an Exclusive Brunch with the theme: Disruptive Thinking as a Tool for Entrepreneurial Effectiveness in Africa.

Oparaugo pointed out that manpower remains an untapped segment in the country. “Nigeria has something that can equal what we make in oil in a year, an area that no one has tapped into before. The area that would more than equal what Nigeria can make from exporting agricultural produce is on manpower and skills acquisition.

“Between 2010 and 2016, Nigerians in Diaspora sent more money into Nigeria than the World Bank or United Nations gave on aid. If the Nigerian government can shut down 50 per cent of the universities in the country and turn them to vocational schools and train people on skills, if we have 10 million young people who are into skills acquisition and the government helps to ship them abroad and to other African countries, they will earn millions of dollars and send some back to Nigeria. Give a Chinese company a contract in Nigeria and they will ship in 1,000 Chinese to Nigeria to work. They went to technical colleges and nothing more.

They earn money here and remit back to their countries and our youths are here doing nothing,” he stated.

He said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria are not growing because the government has not invested so much on them, adding that 90 per cent of businesses in America are classified as small businesses and over 93 per cent in the UK.

“In Nigeria, government is not funding SMEs, they don’t even have the right database to understand who the SMES are and their certifications. People don’t even trust the SME database. About 40 per cent jobs would vanish in less than 12 years to come.

Artificial intelligence would take over. Businesses that are not technologically enabled would shut down because technological advancements between year 2006 and 2016 beats that of 1900 and 2000. It would give you an idea of where the world is going. Digitalisation would take the job of middlemen,” he added.

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