Employability skills of technical college graduates : a case study for Government Technical College (GTC) in Ahoada Rivers State Nigeria.
Legg-Jack, Dagogo William.
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This thesis sought to explore the Employability skills of Technical College graduates with the aim to establish: stakeholders‟ perceptions of skills required by Technical College graduates for their employability, and to find out if there is an interface in their perceptions. The study was guided by two research questions: 1. What are the sets of skills graduates from Technical Colleges need for employability as: a) Recommended by the Nigeria National Policy on Education (2004) and the Senior Secondary Education Curriculum (2008)? b) Perceived by teachers and graduates from Technical Colleges? c) Required by employers of Technical College graduates? 2. Is there an interface as defined by above stakeholders? If so, what is its nature? To successfully address these questions a qualitative case study design approach was used. Data was generated through two policy documents: the Nigeria National Policy on Education (2004) and the Senior Secondary Education Curriculum (2008); and questionnaires and focus group discussions with Technical College graduates and teachers as well as industry employers. The theoretical orientation that framed the study was the Triple Helix theory of academia, industry and government relations. This theory agitates for an improved and increased relationship among various organisations in an industrial economy‟s innovation system especially academia, industry and government. This framework not only allowed for determining the level of collaboration among the four stakeholders, but opened up creative ways for the tracing the trajectory required for construction of the requisite employability skills of Technical College graduates. Analysis of data gained from answering the two research questions confirmed that, although weak, interfaces do indeed exist with respect to the requisite skills of Technical College graduates as per the perceptions of the four stakeholders involved in the study. The analysis revealed points of convergence and divergence in the type and nature of the interfaces explored. With regard to the technical skills required, two interfaces were observed. Firstly, the policy-teacher-graduate-employer interface revealed convergence in relation to the following technical skills: mechanical, building and electrical trades. These trade skills were identified by all the stakeholders as necessary skills requirements for Technical College graduates. Secondly, the teacher-graduate interface revealed convergence in relation to maintenance skills. While the teachers see maintenance skills as a subject area that needs to be incorporated into the whole Technical College programme, the graduates consider it as a component of a particular trade, which is electrical engineering. This, therefore, signals a variation on what both stakeholders perceive maintenance skills to be, and thus points to an interesting variation in the understanding of the phenomenon. With regard to the soft skills required by the stakeholders amongst Technical College graduates, four interfaces were foregrounded. The first interface cut across all four stakeholders involved in the study and converged on self-reliance as a requisite skill for Technical College graduates. Though all stakeholders stressed self-reliance as a necessary skill that needs to be developed by Technical College graduates, there were still discrepancies in their views of what self-reliance is. The second interface was the policy-teacher-employer interface. It converged with slight variations at the following three skills: communication, problem-solving and mathematical literacy. The third interface was the policy-teacher interface, and it converged at analytical skills. Finally, the fourth interface was the policy employer interface which converged with slight variations at two skills: technical drawing and interpersonal and human relations. It is significant to note that the points of divergence observed came from only two of the four stakeholders, namely, policy (local government) and industry employers and these related to the capital market and basic safety skills, respectively. The weak interface formed by the stakeholders in this study is indicative of weak links between policy, Technical College and industry. The implication is that Technical College programmes are producing graduates with skills not responsive to the needs of the labour market and of society. What such weakness foregrounds is a call for policy reform and forums for communication in order to address the factors that have led to the feeble interface currently experienced regarding policy construction and skills development.
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