Entrepreneurship education key to graduate employability – VC

By Miriam Obierika & Michael Anyangbeso

The Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, has said that developing and possessing entrepreneurial skills is a way to reduce unemployment amongst graduates of higher institutions in the country.

He said students with entrepreneurial education are better suited for flexibility and adaptability in the labour market, especially with the uncertainty and dynamic changes within the economic environment.

The Vice-Chancellor said this at the opening ceremony of the maiden NOUN Entrepreneurship Exhibition, organised by the Directorate for Entrepreneurship and General Studies, which was held physically and virtually at the seven (7) incubation centres in the six geo-political zones and the NOUN headquarters, Abuja.

In his opening address, Peters said the university decided to set up these incubation centres to support NOUN students that have creative and innovative ideas to commence start-up businesses.

 “These students are known as incubatees, and they are mentored in their various lines of abilities and interest. This exhibition is organised to give opportunity first to incubatees to showcase their creativity and innovation, which is not only limited to only products and services, but also include the commercialisation of their research work,’’ he said.

While congratulating the incubatees for their giant strides into the entrepreneurial world, he added that “You are the ones that can help reduce employment in our country and you will always receive our support.’’

The VC also announced that the best three exhibitors will receive a token to support their ideas.

Earlier, the director of the centre, Prof. Juliet Inegbedion, said the directorate was birthed due to the university’s concern on how entrepreneurship education should be taught at the university levels and especially at the undergraduate level to ensure that employability skills are transferred to the graduates.

“Today, the directorate has been able to achieve a reasonable percentage of the mandate with full support of the university management. Therefore, we are here today to present the students’ creative and innovative ideas for assessment. The achievement we are witnessing today was through a collaborative efforts of team,’’ she said.

Inegbedion added that the university, beyond creativity and innovation in product and services, was working on commercialisation of research work.

She said “We are open and ready to collaborate with academics in the research and industries in the areas of production and services.’’

Coordinators of the incubation centres made their presentations on activities of their respective centres and showcased various products and services from incubatees ranging from fashion design, makeup, metal works and fabrication, food making, among others.

Goodwill messages were presented by Mr. Asafa Landan, Ag. Director, Directorate of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr. Peter Bamkole, Pan- Atlantic University, Dr. Akanimo Odon, Africa Strategy Adviser, Lancaster University, UK, and Farmer Samson Ogbole of the Team Lead Soilless Farm Lab.

Meanwhile, the South-west Incubation Centre was not left out as the Coordinator, Dr. Sam Awolumate and staff put together an impressive exhibition, with an excellent organisation of students exhibiting their products/services.

In his remarks, Awolumate said the centre has helped students develop and sharpen their skills as creators and as businessmen and women, stressing that the centre connects the students with investors for better opportunities.

The exhibitors came prepared, displaying beautifully attractive products, from wigs to female clothing, pastries and hair care products, unisex footwear as well as handmade bags.

All materials for the products were sourced locally as the centre recorded eight students who turned up for the exhibition.

Also, present at the event in the centre were the Deputy Registrar, Mrs. Kate Anunobi, Director, Lagos Study Centre, Dr. Alero Akujobi, Director, Mushin Study Centre, Dr. Yemisi Ogunlela, Barrister (Mrs.) Deborah Oluwaseyi Dairo, Senior Legal/Quality Assurance Officer and Deputy Registrar, Lagos Study Centre, Mrs. Mono Udong.