It gladdens my heart to be a partaker of this gathering of great minds. I came into office on the 1st August, 2017. Hence, this happens to be my maiden appearance at the Conference of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.

The subject of discussion Looking Ahead to the Future Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Graduate Employability is an interesting one because the hope of this nation is hinged on the quality of our graduates, the leaders of tomorrow, and the diligence put in place to combat the economic conundrum with creativity residence in the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship. In a bid to achieve academic goals and uniquely impact the society, each university has its vision and mission statements guiding its operations towards producing graduates that will be a pride to their Alma mater. 

The term "innovation" connotes something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that "breaks into" the market or society. Entrepreneurship refers to the concept of developing and managing a business venture in order to gain profit by taking several risks in the corporate world. In the recent world, both innovation and entrepreneurship are key indices for determining the quality of graduates the society actually needs as against the chunks being produced year in year out. Graduate employability is therefore a function of requisite innovative and entrepreneurial skills attainable within the curricular context of institution of higher learning. Every employer looks up to accessing these creative values domiciled in graduates of Universities that pay no lip service to curriculum review in tandem with the current needs of the society. Beyond paper qualification, practical skills tailored towards problem solving, wealth generation and creativity are germane in raising human resource capacity of a nation, which is the prerogative of University education world over.

The quality of Nigerian graduates has come under severe criticisms lately. Employers of labour pronounced the graduates unemployable hence the preference for overseas-trained over Nigerian-trained graduates. Consequently, most parents, particularly the rich, prefer to send their children abroad for quality education thus confirming the poor funding, unstable calendar, inadequate infrastructure and manpower situations that surround the higher education institutions in Nigeria.

As a creative process, Entrepreneurship is development of something new and value to both the entrepreneur and the society. Entrepreneurship involves risk taking. This is predicated upon the fact that the future is often unseen, and unpredictable. It is the process of creating or developing wealth through investment of resources. An entrepreneur can create water out of sand dunes, and turn forest into a city on account of his creativity. Hence Entrepreneurs are those who bring ideas from the world of forms to the world of reality. They are people who give life to ideas and create wealth from nothing. These are the set of ideal graduates Universities should churn out to add values to the society, the responsibility of which lies on this reputable association to drive.

The term Employability means capability of getting and keeping fulfilling work. In other words, Employability refers to a person’s capability of gaining initial employment, maintaining employment and obtaining new employment if required. It is the capacity to being more self-sufficiency within the labour market to realize potential through sustainable employment. So graduate employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitude they possess, the way they use those assets and present them to employers. The future of any nation therefore lies in this category of graduates proven employable having imbibed in the innovative and entrepreneurial skills in their institutions.

As a matter of fact, skills shortage remains a serious constraint in Nigeria. Over 80% of graduates in Nigeria are unemployed, yet they have the qualifications. Unemployment in Nigeria appears to be a labour market paradox, and is attributed to prevailing skills deficit and skills mismatch. The skills deficit among graduates (from higher education) is considered to be constraint to long run economic growth and a contributing factor to incidence of graduate unemployment. Graduates lack generic competencies and are not work place ready.

University students require stronger and more creative linkages between student life and world of work in regard to the nature of the higher education curriculum in Nigeria. There is a calling for greater application and practice in conjunction with a clear emphasis on economic and social relevance. An individual’s employability asset comprises their knowledge (i.e. what they know) skills (what they do with what they know and attitudes (how they do it). Essentially, youth entrepreneurship promotes innovation and resilience as it encourages young people to find new solutions, ideas and ways of doing things through experience based learning. It is imperative for us as Universities to inculcate a new orientation of excellence that will empower the graduates to become men and women of influence not only in educational pursuits but also in the field of work.

It is only in this paradigm shift that can effectively bring about moral rearmament and a society free from job seekers, poverty, anarchy, tyranny and profligacy. We need to create a society where opportunities exist for the forthcoming generation and where a long awaited African Intellectual Rebirths can be midwifed. In the light of this for instance, Landmark University is envisioned to be a leading world class university by spearheading agrarian revolution on the African continent through the exploration of the mother-earth thereby restoring the dignity of the black race. While agriculture is the core emphasis, the University is committed to raising a generation of solution providers through a qualitative and life applicable training system that focuses on value and creative knowledge. Underscoring the significance of innovation and entrepreneurship in modern Agriculture capable of restoring the dignity of black race, the University builds a broad based qualitative curricula template culminating in raising a new generation of leaders, reformers, breadwinners, job creators and world changers. 

In the like manner, other Universities have their areas of emphasis and individual unique selling points, but the challenge lies in the quality of commitment to these laudable academic goals. Educational institutions should therefore be more committed to planned process that leads into the acquisition of entrepreneurial competencies. There should be more intentional efforts to have entrepreneurship education in the curricular. Entrepreneurship education is the type of education where the learner is exposed to cognitive affective and psychomotor abilities that will enable the learner be self-sufficient, self-reliant and sustainable. Entrepreneurship education offers a solution. It seeks to prepare people, particularly youths, to be responsible and enterprising individuals who will become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers by immersing themselves in real life learning experiences where they can take risks, manage the results, and learn from the outcomes. It is in the spirit of looking ahead into the future that made Landmark University for instance to launch certificate in agripreneurship which affords all students to graduate with additional skills in agriculture regardless in their field of study thereby giving them the privilege of leaving the University as agripreneurs upon graduation to immune them from the problems that affect others in the world of work.

Nigerian graduates face series of problems - poverty, unemployment, conflicts and diseases is not an easy task. These problems therefore will need that the youths be empowered with creative problem-solving skills. The training of educated individuals who can function effectively in the society for the betterment of self and the society will require special attention such as: 

1.Ensuring that schools deliberately provide sector specific skills needed for the development of human capital, use professional and entrepreneurs as instructors and mentors. 

2.Teaching entrepreneurship and creativity across programmes. 

3.Organizing for curricular integration of education, entrepreneurship and community development 

In conclusion, skill acquisition is the fastest moves to talent discovery. When the youths in schools, higher institutions and universities are groomed to learn the skills needed in their future self-employment and sustenance, the end result would be reassurance and future self-employment. The era of white collar jobs have gone, when graduates look up to government for employment. Entrepreneurship and employability go hand in hand because entrepreneurship education will help to facilitate the acquisition of skills competence and ability by the graduates. When these graduates are equipped they will help to reduce, unemployment, help to generate income, contribute to gross domestic product, faster innovation and incubate potential large industries that will boost technological development and identify business opportunities in Nigeria.

Professor Adeniyi OLAYANJU.

Members of Landmark University Team and Vishtech Team during the interaction

Vice-Chancellors at the 32nd Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU)

Members of Landmark University Team receiving the 49 inches Digital Signage Screen from Vishtech Team

The Vice-Chancellor, Landmark University, Professor Adeniyi Olayanju at the 32nd Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU)




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