Information and communications technologies can be a key factor for achieving progress in economic and social development of nations.
ICTs provide an opportunity for nations to address the digital divide and reduce poverty while registering economic growth. Developed and some developing nations have seen the emergence of a vibrant ICT sector that significantly contributes towards national gross domestic product (GDP).
ICTs – used as an enabling tool that provides access to information and knowledge that is so important for the development of any sector.
Speaking at a brainstorming session with experts on validation of the national occupational standards in selected ICT areas convened by Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), an arm of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in Abuja, the director, DBI, Dr Ike Adinde, underscored the importance of skilled ICT professionals in national development, saying the Federal Government is seeking to capture skilled professionals under various skill categories under its Nigerian Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).
The framework seeks to group, set standards and categorize skills of ICT professionals in specific areas such as digital services operations, creative media production, mobile application development, web application development and social media communications.
Adinde said the policy sought to clearly place the skill of ICT professionals within a certain framework based on specified standards, pointing out that it would create a wider and more open access to people who do not have access to formal education in the university to be captured and categorized.
He said: “Until now there has not been a framework for identifying and mainstreaming standard skills in certain areas of the ICT. I give you typical example, people are doing stuff in web development, mobile app development, creative media production, social media communications, telecommunications maintenance etc. A lot of these skills have not been organized into a national standard such that you can place the holders of these skills within a particular framework in terms of what they can do. It is important that we do this because the formal education from the university, a BSC degree in computer science, electrical electronics, telecommunications or any of those related areas does not specifically indicate your skill level.
“So, what the NSQF does is to clearly place your skill within a certain framework based on the standards that are being set today. It creates a wider and more open access to people who do not have access to formal education in the university, so the fact that you are able to then develop and become a mobile app developer, web developer, a phone repair technician, an animation creator based on your skills, we can place you on a standard that is equivalent to say HND, OND, Ph.D so you don’t have to have a formal certificate to be able to have a recognition; it gives you access not just for local employment but also international employment.”
Adinde added: “A lot of people are doing stuff out there and there is no formal means of accessing them, these have a framework where the individual’s competency level will be accessed, each level has a specified skill set. The standard will be set and the training will be delivered using training centres to ensure that the people who are being certified have attained the standards and DBI will be driving the process.
“When we finish this process, DBI may choose to be an awarding body and then we will accredit the centres, the centres can be institutions where these people can go and acquire training programmes. There are centres all over the country today that have not been formally accredited or certified according to the national vocationary qualification framework (NVQF) which is being developed now. So, when the framework is developed these centres if they wish to be part of the skill can apply and then they will go through a verification process to accredit them as centres for the NVQF.”
Speaking to journalists, the director, skill development, NBTE, Mr Abbati Mohammed, said the programme was aimed at developing national occupational standards in Information and Communications Technology sector for training, assessment and certification of skills, knowledge and competence, whether achieved formally or informally.
He stated, “What we are developing for these few days is a document. The impact of this document in the sector is that it will be used for training and it will be used in industries for assessment, recruitment, and promotion.
“Industries may use it to train their own staff. The document will also be used for national certification. Most of the skills acquired in the formal sector are not certified in this country.” Mohammed added that the standards document would help the economy by providing skills are needed and not just academic qualifications.