CEDSS CONCEPT PAPER

 

 

THE CENTRE FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENTAND SUPPORT SERVICES”, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OYE-EKITI, NIGERIA

OGUNJOBI, O.P. B.Sc. (Econs), M.Tech. (Agric-Econs), MIoE, MNIA, FPA.

INTRODUCTION

 

Unemployment is a global socioeconomic problem that is more pronounced in the developing economies, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa countries.

 

There is a growing concern on the spate of unemployment particularly among the youths. One of the notable causes of unemployment is the shrinking demand for certain categories of jobs and the growing un-employability of Higher Education Institutions’ (HIE) graduates. It is also evident that previously available jobs are disappearing or shrinking, leading to a situation that more people are jostling for fewer jobs.

Rapid technological change such as application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the workplace has also led to job loss. There is, therefore, the need for Higher Education Institutions to restructure their academic curricular modules and make it relevant to the reality of making HIE graduates relevant to the demands of the labour market, and prepare them to take up employment opportunities and consequently generate employment for others. The fixed mindset of the youths on securing declining white collar jobs has to be changed and make the average job seeker to see the potentials in blue collar jobs and self-employment.

 

The problem of unemployment is more pronounced in the Sub-Saharan Africa where youth population is highest. According to the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) in its study of countries with the highest number of young people in the population projection for the year 2005, of the 102 countries with 40% or more young people aged between 15 – 29 years, 50 of them are from Africa. Of the 33 countries with 50% share of their population within the age bracket 15 – 29, thirty of them are from Africa. Nigeria leads with the largest number of young people with 2006 National Population Census, indicating youth population of about 80%.    

Statistics in support of Small & Medium Scale Enterprises’ job creation capacity indicate that over 90% of all European businesses fall into SME cadre which account for 2 out of every 3 private jobs. In the United States, nearly all net job creation between 1977 and 2005 occurred in SME firms. SMEs also represent approximately 99% of all enterprises and two third of employment across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.      

Entrepreneurial education has been identified as the most potent tool to equip school leavers for wider employment opportunities and turn them to catalysts for job creation. It is therefore incumbent on the Higher Education Institutions to design training syllabi that will be adequately and continually relevant to the demands of the labour market / industries and the ever changing needs of the society. In response to this, the Federal Ministry of Education and Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) have continued to encourage tertiary institutions to set up dedicated Centre for Entrepreneurship Development to provide the missing practical workplace skills and training that will equip graduates to be self-reliant, self-employed and become employers of labour. The challenge therefore is to be able to create the platform that will expose undergraduates to workplace environment, innovativeness, risk bearing, product development, business start-up and management.

Being a newly established University, the University has a golden opportunity to develop entrepreneurial training schemes that will promote town-gown engagement and align with its core academic curriculum. The Centre will coordinate and provide training platform to teach, coach and inspire students to identify and creatively pursue business opportunities and innovation along with their core academic programmes.

 

It is often argued that Entrepreneurship is a natural trait that cannot be learned. Rather than agreeing with this, it is clear from the development of the concept of Entrepreneurship that while Entrepreneurship evolves naturally in some cases, it can be taught and learnt. Entrepreneurial education or training has been promoted and adopted in many instances as the needed impetus for Entrepreneurship development and by extension job creation. An individual can easily be inspired by learning about the success of another individual. If driving, singing, dancing, football and other sports can be learnt through training and practice, then, Entrepreneurship can surely be taught and learnt. However, ‘teaching’ or otherwise, coaching Entrepreneurship requires special delivery approach different from the regular academic discipline. Students will learn more when inspired in activity and competency based modules, rather than engaging classroom environment trainers.

The Centre will achieve its set goals better by engaging experienced practitioners and specialists who can pass across hand-on experience to the students.

 

JUSTIFICATIONS:

 

From experience garnered so far, there seems to be a general agreement among analysts that the present HEI academic curriculum is not sufficient to make HEI graduates self-employed and job creators rather than job seekers. The implication of such trend is that more and more graduates are turned out each year into the labour market, thereby increasing the scourge of unemployment in the society. The common panacea to this excruciating socioeconomic crisis is Entrepreneurship Development; hence the need for tertiary institutions to create special unit that will promote the doing of Entrepreneurship and Vocational Skills Development.

Quite often, the unemployed has certain natural trait, which if identified and honed, can be sufficient to earn him/her a good living. Such natural traits, otherwise known as talents can easily be identified; evaluated, polished and commercialized to a career status. There is also abundance of existing and emerging business opportunities in the society that have the capacity to engage a number of unemployed. The crux here is the failure to identify these opportunities and nurture them for the economic benefits of the society. It is a known fact that an average Nigerian tertiary institutions’ graduate prefers a white collar job to self-employment and only sees self-employment as option of the last resort.

This mindset has continued to increase local entrepreneurship capacity gaps. The University, as the arrowhead of Human Capital Development, is therefore, expected to rise to the challenge and reenergise its educational modules with Entrepreneurial education.

The establishment of a dedicated Centre for Entrepreneurship Development is a necessary adjunct for the development and promotion of Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Education where undergraduates can learn basic business skills, and networking with burgeoning entrepreneurs. If appropriately structured, the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development will provide the missing link in the Nigerian HEI educational curriculum, become the nuclei for jobs creation and ultimately assist in reducing unemployment.

Sagagi (2007) stated that “fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurs to invest in technology and new activities is critical to the required economic growth in Nigeria. The task ahead is not the sole domain of the Federal Government, Entrepreneurship educators/trainers could significantly contribute in the change process”.

 

Entrepreneurship remains the key driver of economic growth. There is a general consensus across the world that entrepreneurship promotion has a positive correlation with economic growth. The development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), which have served as catalyst for economic growth and prosperity in many climes rests squarely on promotion of Entrepreneurial Education, spiced with activity based learning and interactive programmes.

Given that the Nigerian population is predominantly (2006 Census figure: 80%) made of youths between age 0 – 44years and the fact that the youths have a fixed attitude in favour of white collar jobs, there is the need for institutional approach to re-orientate the youths towards changing and imbibing entrepreneurial values.

 

 

EXPERIENCES SO FAR

Experiences within the last three academic sessions have shown that Entrepreneurial Education has become an integral part of the academic curriculum of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti. The academic aspect of the programme, which at the moment, is embedded in the General Studies Unit of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, has been able to conceptualize and drive the synopsis and course contents for pedagogy, as well as introduce and sensitize students on the benefits inherent in self worth and actualization. The programme has succeeded in inculcating in the students the spirit of entrepreneurship and attitudinal change aimed at engendering the right values in them.

Not only have the students been taken through the rudiments of Entrepreneurship values and philosophy, they have also learnt some trades, which, given the necessary impetus, would make them masters of the trades, and in compliance with the National Universities Commission desire, the Students are presently being mobilized for the launching of the “Students Entrepreneur Club” known as “NETWORK FOR AFRICAN STUDENTS ENTREPRENEURS” (NASE). Executive Committees have been put in place and the draft Constitution of the Club is ready for review and ratification.

The underlying philosophy of the Entrepreneurship programme of the University is “to produce self reliant and creative graduates; to give them the leverage to become job creators through Entrepreneurial Education, with a cutting edge technology as part of their discipline.”

To achieve this lofty goal, there is, therefore, the need to take further steps.

 

 

 

 

MODUS OPERANDI

It will be important to form a Curriculum Development Team with the sole responsibility to connect interdisciplinary curve round the existing Faculties and Departments in the University. The University, has, therefore, come up with a more improved and appropriate curriculum, particularly for the Vocational Skills Development arm of the Centre. This shall be done in collaboration with all the Departments and Faculties.

The Centre had first and foremost, taken special notes of the natural endowment of the areas to serve; in this case, Oye and Ikole communities respectively. This has become a major plank on which entrepreneurial education is developed. For instance, there are untapped business opportunities in agriculture, solid minerals and even in the geographical locations. It is therefore appropriate for the Centre to have first taken inventory of the environment and its natural endowments, with a view to developing entrepreneurship curriculum that will make optimum use of such potentials. Here, we are poised to evolve Work-Study Programmes.

It is also important to observe global trend which supports enterprise facilitation as best introduced at the school levels..Critical components of academic curriculum are the new technological and socioeconomic orders such as outsourcing, off shoring, e-commerce etc. The contributions of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to employment generation in Europe and North America are also models we are studying and to learn from.

 

Unlike the regular academic program, Entrepreneurial training is activity /competency based module, designed specifically to help the students think and expand their thinking frontiers constantly along the line of value creation with activities to connect classroom program contents to real life situation. It will also introduce students to career exploration modules as well as stimulate students’ growth in service, teamwork, goal setting, ethics and business management best practices.

 

BUSINESS INCUBATION.

One major component of Entrepreneurship facilitation will be the establishment of Business Incubators within the Centre, with the aim of linking theoretical training to practical exposure. This will position the Centre to offer relevant Support Services to business development especially at the start-up phase. This will involve providing advisory services, management / technical guidance, business and market information / database, e.t.c. Basically, the incubator will make it possible for the Centre to assist students with entrepreneurial potentials to transform ideas into business.

 

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

Entrepreneurship is a special academic discipline and a way of life. There is therefore, the need to recognize the interdisciplinary value of entrepreneurship and weave it throughout the curricular. The skills learned in the entrepreneurship classes and workshops are vital for the success of any business.

 The starting point in entrepreneurship is the possession of the capacity to identify business opportunities. This will integrate many of the concepts, tools and practices of entrepreneurship that will equip the students with the skills to identify and evaluate business opportunities and to write, articulate and present new venture execution plans, business plans as well as understand the alternatives and trade-offs in financing, starting and operating business ventures and gain a better understanding of entrepreneurial capabilities. The course will afford students to handle feasibility assessments, venture viability analysis and resource acquisition.

 

 

 

KEY OBJECTIVES:

The aim of the Entrepreneurial Education as espoused in the curriculum is to provide FUOYE students with opportunities to:

• acquire knowledge and develop skills necessary to plan and begin a venture.

• embrace entrepreneurship as a way of life and be the change agents to engender employment generation.

 

GOALS:

Awareness: To develop an appreciation for the impact Entrepreneurs have on the economy and the complexity involved in planning, initiating, and operating a successful venture.

 

Technological Skills: To develop skills in using technology to enhance work and to recognize both the impact of technology on our society and the opportunities it creates for small business.

 

Communication: To develop communication skills, using appropriate vocabulary in context both in undertaking course work and in relating to customers, employers, and other parties.

 

Independent Learning: To promote a desire for lifelong learning and independent work practices.

 

Accountability: To instil a sense of responsibility for, and pride in one’s work.

Career Development: To develop an awareness of post – secondary training opportunities; to explore various entrepreneurial career opportunities, and to support students in making career decisions.

 

Personal Management Skills: To develop a strong and positive personal identity and to enhance self - esteem through success with planning, beginning, and operating a venture. An average person possesses natural survival instinct which is the core feature on which entrepreneurship is built. However, this trait needs to be nurtured to grow and blossom to a level of passion required for the individual to ensure business survival.

 

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

There is a huge role for the Centre to perform outside the University community, by providing the platform to train members of the general public on business skills.

Entrepreneurship education as lifelong learning process suggests that starting early and through all levels of education including adult education ensures the potency of such knowledge.  

 

Entrepreneurship education is fast spreading in higher education settings with specific focus on the concept of entrepreneurship and provision of hands-on experience and business management models for students to develop skills as entrepreneurs- in- the- making. This is a necessary response not only to the present level of unemployment but the ever changing technology frontiers.

 

Timmons and Spinelli (2007) recognize that it is possible to expose students in all fields to many of the vital issues of business and immerse them in key learning experience through case studies and real life sharing experience of successful entrepreneurs. The Centre for Entrepreneurship Development will offer the University the opportunity to fill the missing gap – business skills, risk bearing, creativity, talent management and innovation – in the core academic curriculum.

 

Curriculum Delivery Methodology– Entrepreneurship education is an activity based curriculum and the courses are to be delivered in a variety of ways combining classroom and computer-assisted instructions, community and practical workplace delivery approach.  

Course Work – Using innovative teaching methods to improve students’ creativity and analytic way of solving real life problems – practical coaching approach. It is important to introduce students to theoretical knowledge of the business skills. Theoretical entrepreneurship courses will be done through simulation of business environment to allow students acquire skills in the following areas: