In commemoration of 2023 World Youth Skills Day, Nigerian youths have been advised to prioritize acquiring digital skills to empower themselves and remain relevant in society.
The call was made at the 2023 WYSD event at the Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) University of Nigeria (UNN).
The programme was anchored by the Post Graduate Student’s Association (PGSA) of UNN’s Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education (FVTE), 2020/2021 set, in collaboration with UNESCO-UNEVOC centre UNN.
World Youth Skills Day is held every year on 15 July, a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness about the importance of empowering young people to contribute to the workforce and promote sustainable development. The theme of this year’s WYSD is “Skilling Teachers, Trainers and Youth for a Transformative Future.”
Speaking at the event, the UNEVOC centre coordinator, UNN chapter, Prof. E.C. Osinem, who cited Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General’s address on the 2023 WYSD, stated that the celebration is aimed at equipping the youths with quality education, training and essential skills. “In 2014, the United Nations declared July 15 as the World’s Youth Skills Day. The international event is reminding us of the teachers’ stand in inculcating skills in the young people,” he noted.
Also, the chairman of the occasion, and the coordinating officer of the 2023 WYSD celebration in UNN, Dr. Toochukwu Ejiofor, during his welcome address stated that the event was aimed at equipping youths, teachers and trainers for better tomorrow. “When you empower the youth, you empower the world. “VTE is for you to transform society,” Dr Ejiofor stated.
During the lecture titled “The Importance of digital literacy” presented on behalf of Dr Ohanu, a senior lecturer in Industrial Technical Education (ITE) Faculty of VTE UNN, stated that technology has continued to proliferate, hence the need for digital literacy.
He explained that “Digitalization has led to extensive changes in the skills required for work and life. For technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions to remain relevant and attractive, they need to identify and introduce digital skills and competencies for the changing world of work, and to better utilize the opportunities provided by digitalization, particularly distance learning.”
“Digital literacy is a combination of both technical and cognitive abilities in using information technologies to create, evaluate and share information,” he added.
He cited some of the components of digital literacy as “critical thinking and evaluation, cultural and social understanding, collaboration, ability to find and select information, creativity, effective communication, e-safety and Functional skills.”
Stating that the first component of digital literacy is critical thinking and evaluation, Dr. Ejiofor asked “can you sit down to think? Once you can think, you can be able to use technology to solve problems.”
“In solving problems, you should also understand the cultural and social context. For instance, USA defined marriage as a union of two things agreed to stay together. It means that if a man and a goat can stay together, they are married. As a problem solver, you should know that such is not obtainable in Africa,” he advised.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the youth ought to understand that digital literacy goes beyond technical know-how. He said: “People need to be digitally literate even when they are not online; digital literacy is a growing part of any approach to skills development, tools to develop and access digital literacy are proliferating.
“Few programmes operate at scale or have been evaluated for impact, implementing digital literacy is not easy, digital literacy programmes should be context-driven,” the university don added.
He also mentioned the importance of digital literacy as being competent with and fluent in the digital sphere, helps ensure that people can interact with the technology all around for maximum benefit, and with minimal frustration.
He also noted that digital literacy helps students to know how to access information, especially online, and learning established social expectations of online behaviour, which includes; maintaining professional conduct and dealing with a variety of issues such as cyberbullying, phishing scams, and avoiding or detecting malware.
The scholar went further to mention some Digital Literacy Applications for planning and organisation of activities such as Google Workspace, which include: Google Drive, Google Calendar etc.
He also mentioned Microsoft Office, under which are; Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Micro Soft OneNote, and Google Sheets.
He also mentioned My Study Life and I Homework 2.
He also listed some apps for writing and research such as: Easy Bib, All Writers, Grammarly, iTunes U and Thing Link. He stated that online learning tools and resources include Canvas, Blackboard, Car sera, Saylor Academy, Ted-Ed.
According to him, the seven elements of Digital literacy are: media literacy, communication and collaboration, information literacy, digital scholarship, career and identity management, learning skills and ICT literacy.
Dr Ejiofor stated that digital literacy improves business performance and that it also enhances communication and personal development. “Digital literacy is the key to success in a technology-driven economy and society,” he added.
“Most activities in the workplace require 21st century skills and knowledge which are highly digitalized. Therefore, every youth must strive to acquire innovative skills in order to be relevant and for sustainable living in the present society. You can do all things through VTE that empowers you,” he concluded.
Similarly, Prof. E. Ugwoke, the Associate Dean, Faculty of VTE, who also represented the Dean of the faculty, Prof. E. O. Anaele, stated that the call for vocational education is to equip those who need it.
He said: “Every profession is failing today, except skills, especially digital and innovative skills. Every day, new ones are emerging. VTE will help you collaborate and help yourself.”
He remarked that the strength of every society depends on the level of productivity of its youths and advised them to seek every opportunity to empower themselves, especially with their smartphones.
“Don’t wait for your parents to Continue to empower you, sponsoring you through primary, secondary and even higher education is enough. Every empowerment you need is in your phone. Being smart today means having a smartphone. A smartphone is everything you need no matter your area of specialization. Those making it are those making use of their heads more than their hands,” the Professor of Business Education advised.
Also, speaking at the event, the director, Youth Friendly Centre UNN, Prof O. M Iheannyibe, advised the youth to acquire not just hard skills, but also soft ones.
“Skills enable one to adapt to the environment. Note that skills is not just hard skills, hard skills can help you, but loyalty can take you anywhere”
“You cannot go far in life if you lack basic skills of personal relationship even if you have all the theories in the world. Always think of what will help you in your own environment. Whatever you have the opportunity to do, do not take it for granted,” the Director advised.
The Assistant Coordinator, UNESCO-UNEVOC UNN, Prof. Nnenna Ibezim, who is also the first female professor of computer and robotics education in Nigeria urged the youths to exploit opportunities in the digital space to empower themselves, adding, “You digitally brighten your TVET corner,” when you do, showcase digitally.”
Different secondary schools in Nsukka were invited to the event for students to exhibit their technical skills. Some of the schools that showcased what they produced at the event were: Government Technical College (GTC) Nsukka, Shalom Academy Nsukka, and St. Cyprian Secondary School Nsukka, among others. Students from the schools after exhibiting their technical works such as a mower, a house built with a carton, a weapon car, clothes etc, were given prizes and encouraged to go beyond what they are doing.
According to the president of the PGA, Eze Praise, the aim of inviting secondary school students was for them to be exposed to the need for skill acquisition.
UNEVOC is UNESCO’s global network for institutions specialized in technical and vocational education and training. It has many centers across the world. Prof. E. O Osinem is the Coordinator and Prof. Nnenna Ibezim, Assistant Coordinator, of the UNN centre.