TVE, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
Mass Media and Schools in the Marketing of VTE and Entrepreneurship
The contemporary Nigerian schools do more of theoretical than practical knowledge impartation cum acquisition. The media also do/pay little or no attention to the promotion and marketing of entrepreneurship and technical and vocational education (TVE), which they ought to drive with their agenda-setting role. Graduates keep roaming the streets of towns and cities for white-collar and paid private jobs in vein. The imperative of changing their mentality cum addressing un/underemployment issues in some practical ways is why this work is put forward. It reveals that school curricula are deficient of the practical TVE and entrepreneurial skills education that could adequately prepare graduates for self-employment and job creation. Also, most graduates and other members of the public would have been widely involved in entrepreneurship if the media had duly marketed it, and if the government had supported (begins to support) technical/vocational education and entrepreneurship development. It also discovers that emerging young entrepreneurs easily fall out of their ventures as a result of lack of capital and the requisites skills and other harsh contending challenges. It submits that the wide marketing of TVE and entrepreneurship is the panacea for poverty alleviation and un/underemployment issues. It prevails on these state agents to begin to live up to expectation by extensively promoting and supporting TVE and entrepreneurship that have huge uneven development potentials and opportunities. The study relied basically on secondary data along with observation and intuition. The descriptive survey method, the qualitative approach and the text-guide content analysis were employed.
Keywords: Marketing; Entrepreneurship; Media; School; VTE; Government
Nigerian schools, media and government are yet to live up to the expectation of duly teaching and marketing Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) and entrepreneurship in the country. To begin with, the education given to Nigerian graduates is almost completely theoretical, with little or no requisite skills and knowledge for self-employment, couple with white-collar job mentality (Robert in Robert and Besong, 2017:35). Worse still, most schools poorly inculcate the knowledge of these practical phenomena into students; thus, leaving graduates half-baked. Consequently, thousands of graduates from universities and other tertiary institutions are roaming the street in search of white-collar jobs that are non-existent (Besong and Robert, 2016:132). Most of them are under-employed/paid by established entrepreneurs who rather exploit them to their own selfish gains alone, while only a few are employed in the public sector. Duru (2011) has lent credence to the foregoing as he regrets, ‘The Nigerian school curriculum is not geared towards equipping the youth with basic skills required for self-employment.’ The wide marketing of TVE and entrepreneurship is the panacea for poverty alleviation and un/underemployment issues. This is the major responsibility of Nigerian schools, media and government.
The extent of TVE impartation and technical skills acquisition and utilisation in developing economies like ours– Nigeria– is still very inconsequential and perhaps nothing to write home about. More so, the over-dependence on public sector white-collar jobs is a major defect tackling the nation’s employment challenges. The unemployment situation in Nigeria is such that anyone who has no one in the realm of power, economy and education, their merited, not bought, First Class or Second Class Upper is nothing but a mere paper property. It is imperative to note that it is the mere theoretical knowledge orientation that has placed more emphasis on paper grade qualification rather than practical knowledge/skills disposition for employment and the like consideration. There are many Third Class graduates that are outstandingly better than their contemporaries with other classes of grade. However, if the situation has even relegated those with the applauded grades, who have no ‘connection’, it is certain that barely anyone would even want to test the prowess and competence of those with Third Class who have no ‘connection’ too. Be it as it may, the hard truth, as Robert in Robert and Besong (2017:35) notes, is that everyone must not be employed by the government before ‘they make it big time’, since battalions of graduates are produced in disequilibrium with available jobs at the capacity of the government, apart from the fact that the available jobs are now hawked; they are sources of money for corrupt top government officials. Sole proprietorship is better than civil service and other paid (engaged) jobs in several regards, even though it has no future security and freedom and can easily be affected by any unknown risks and misfortunes. It can fall and fold at any time.
The National population statistics of Nigeria, in the 2007 census had it that the population of youths, the ages between 16 and 40, stood at over 70% of the national population estimate. This implies that the present Nigerian population is predominantly youth-centred. Only 30% of the 70% is gainfully employed, the other being idle or unemployed. The implication is youth restiveness– indulging in and perpetrating crimes, social vices, terrorism, militancy, gangsterism, insurgency, fraud (419), kidnapping, thuggery, theft, suicide, homicide, etc. More so, recent World Bank’s statistics proves that poverty among the youthful population is as high as 70%. This figure, Uji (2014) observes, contrast with the NPSN (2007) census figure above and also with the recent claim that Nigeria is the fastest growing economy in Africa. It is ironical to have growth here without development. There can be no significant development without the employment of the workforce, the youths, having 70% poverty ratio.
Although Nigerian schools, media and government are yet to play their supposed roles in rousing the interest of many, particularly the unemployed graduates, to entrepreneurship, if they turn to it, there shall be great results, change and solutions to unemployment with its devastating menace. Anything given maximum attention and jingles by the press easily catch the interest of their heterogeneous audience, the masses. If well informed, the unnecessary fears nurtured by the masses would be no more and thus many shall begin to key into entrepreneurship. All they need to do is be innovative, liberal and productive, when the press, the schools and the government begin to play their ideal role in the promotion and development of TVE and entrepreneurship (Robert, 2017 in Robert and Besong, 2017).
The government must begin to do all it needs to do to ensure that the media and the schools effectively carry out the task and as well empower the populated unemployed graduates who are becoming nuisance to the society. Our government fails to take cognizance of the fact the current robust economies of several erstwhile underdeveloped nations is a product of entrepreneurship and TVE. They ought to learn from their counterparts in Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Tanzania, Kenya, India, etc., whose bold steps in this area have accorded them their present global status in various phases of development. The development experiences of East-Asia nations: China, Singapore and Malaysia, and Latin America: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile were a product of their priority accorded to indigenous entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises. Nigeria’s huge human natural resources, which if properly harnessed, can put the economy on the fastest lane of development and growth like such nations, but because of widespread corruption, unemployment and poverty, Nigerian economy seems to have lost such opportunities (Robert, 2017; Dibie, Besong and Robert, 2016). Worried by the underlying gap, the low involvement of Nigerian graduates in entrepreneurial cum Technical/Vocational Education (TVE) skills acquisition, this study rises to effect some change and turn the interest of graduates from white-collar and paid private jobs to entrepreneurship– self employed jobs/ventures.
It is imperative to quickly note here that TVE or VTE means the same thing. They are seeming two acronyms (words) used interchangeably according to choice by scholars. Technical skills acquisition is the thrust of Vocational and Technical Education (VTE). The Nation Policy Education (1981) describes technical education as that aspect of education which leads to the acquisition of practical and applied skills as well as basic scientific knowledge. TVE is a type of education or training designed for preparing the individual learner to earn a living or increase his earning. It utilises scientific knowledge in the acquisition of practical and applied skills in solving problems. It is aimed at preparing individuals and the society by providing skills necessary for employment and self-reliance. It is quite regrettable however that the aims of VTE are seldom pursued and almost never realised in Nigeria despite its statutory establishment (Besong and Robert, 2016). The basis for determining social, economic and industrial development of a nation is vocational and technical education (Arfo, 2007:74; Besong and Robert, 2016).
Entrepreneurship is described by Soyibo in Duru (2011) as the process of identifying an opportunity related to needs– satisfaction and converting it to a thing of value. It can also be conceptualised as the process driven by the desire to innovate; i.e., the ability to develop new business ideas and take the risk of setting up an enterprise to produce goods and services that can satisfy human wants (Robert, 2017 in Robert and Besong, 2017). It is the ability and willingness to take risks and combine factors of production in order to produce goods and services that can satisfy human wants (Drucker, 1985). This suggests that an entrepreneur is a self-employed person who is willing and able to identify and exploit opportunities in the environment. Entrepreneurship has significant impact on economic growth and facilitates the acquisition of technical skills for self-employment among youths in Nigeria to some extent.
According to Meredith, Nelson and Neck (1991), entrepreneurs are people who have the ability to see and evaluate business opportunities, gather necessary resources in order to take advantage of them and initiate appropriate actions to ensure success. An entrepreneur is the sole proprietor who owns, runs, controls, manages and oversees his/her firm, having acquired such skills or having the charisma, the in-born skills. Entrepreneurship is concerned with wealth creation through investment opportunities. It is a process through which entrepreneurs create and grow enterprises to provide new products or services, or add value to products or services. It is the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled. It is the ability to take risks and combine factors of production in order to produce goods and services that can satisfy human wants. It is the willingness and the ability of an individual to seek out investment opportunities in an environment and be able to establish and run an enterprise successfully based on the identified opportunities (OECD, 2006; Musa, 2014). An entrepreneur is a poverty alleviator, job creator, sole proprietor, employer of labour, a capitalist, a producer, developer and risk-bearer/taker and manager.
Legion scholars have variedly theorised entrepreneurship, its evolution, development and impact. The earlier scholars belong to the psychological schools of thought or entrepreneurial trait school, championed by Schumpeter (1934) and the managerial skills school, championed by Drucker (1970), cited in Dandago and Muhammed (2014). For the former, entrepreneurs are ‘born’ and the behaviour of an individual is influenced by their attitude, values and beliefs. These theorists believe that entrepreneurship is based on certain traits and entrepreneurs are ‘born’, not made (Musa, 2014:100-2). Their conception/proposition has religious (divine) undertone, as entrepreneurial skills, competence and successful leadership is rather traced to divine or natural endowment, thus postulating that entrepreneurial skills and development likewise cannot (can rarely) be acquired and attained ordinarily through learning. This is not true, as it is rather misleading. These attributes are both naturally and artificially acquired and attained. Entrepreneurial skills/attributes are both naturally and artificially acquired and showcased. They can be learnt, when one is not naturally talented in it. This is just like greatness acquisition, as conceived by Shakespeare thus: ‘Some are born great; some achieve greatness; to others, greatness is bestowed upon them.’
Theorists of the managerial skills school of thought argue that entrepreneurs can be trained and developed and that the techniques of entrepreneurship are a discipline that can be taught or learnt. Hence, entrepreneurs are ‘made’, not ‘born’, rather than the opposite thought of the theorists of the psychological or entrepreneurship trait school. It is apt to reason that entrepreneurs are both born and made. The born ones are those that perform outstandingly in entrepreneurship despite not having attained any formal or advanced training/skills, while those who have become good (outstanding) entrepreneurs, though lacking the inborn (leadership and managerial/entrepreneurial) qualities, traits, skills and competence, but merely upon willingness, commitment, learning/acquisition and utilisation, are the ‘made’ entrepreneurs.
Schumpeter (1958), the proponent of the economic development theory, contends that entrepreneurship is a vital force in economic development and the entrepreneur is the initiator as well as driving force of innovation. His 1958 study reveals the relationship between capitalism spirit, assumption and performance of entrepreneurial role in different historical settings. He observes that the principal force behind entrepreneurial performance is the profit motive, even if there are other less materialistic considerations, such as to find an empire, will only ignite greater motives. Also, the (media) development theory, which tasks people to embark on activities that can bring out total national improvement on their life and socio-economic development, moulds this study (Ojobor, 2002; McQuail, 1987). This is predicated on the social effect theory which describes the influence of phenomena in contact on each other negatively or positively.
The acquisition of technical skills and their efficacious application in the process of production was the cornerstone of England industrial success. Skills and capitals as well as entrepreneurial drive, merged together, were factors responsible for the triumph of the private sector transformation of the English society in the 19th and 20th centuries (Uji, 2014). The task of such or even more transformation of Nigeria’s private sector, the national economy and the society at large lies basically with the government and the media and the schools through efficacious entrepreneurial education programmes and wide awareness campaign (marketing) specially designed to promote and sustain TVE and entrepreneurship in order to create wealth and jobs (employment opportunities).
TVE, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
Arfo (2007:71) reasons that for poverty to give way to abundance, Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) must be given a boost at all levels of education. One of the fundamental economic principles is the actualisation of full employment in the society. Poverty alleviation primarily focuses on expanding employment opportunities, especially rural women and poor urban women, the poorest of the poor (UNDP, 1997), and the youths; and working towards the goal through effective policies and decisions that take cognizance of macroeconomic relationships and microeconomic allocation of resources, among other factors (Braun, 1995; Otitolaiye and Otitolaiye, 2014).