This study was designed to assess the mechanical Engineering craft practice production units as means of enhancing skill acquisition in Technical Colleges in South-South Zone of Nigeria. To carry out the study six research questions and three null hypotheses were formulated. The design of the study was the descriptive survey. The study was conducted in the six States of South-South, namely, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. The population for the study was 81 technical staff in the 15 Technical Colleges running production unit. A structured questionnaire containing sections (A-D) with a total of 61 items was used for collection of data. A checklist for availability and adequacy of facilities were developed and used. Also a rating scale on assessment of students’ skills was equally developed. The reliability test of the instrument for section B-D was done using Crombach Alpha statistical tool at 0.05 level of significance. An overall reliability coefficient of 0.86 was obtained. The administration of the instrument was done by the researcher with the help of five research assistants. Mean, Standard deviation and Analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used for data analysis. The findings of the study revealed that staff of mechanical engineering craft practice production unit possessed moderate skills; facilities available were fairly adequate; the administration manages the unit by planning, coordinating, directing and supervising the workforce for the attainment of set objectives; sales of finished product, imprest, PTA special development levies were the main sources of fund of the production unit and on quality of students’ products fairly good was the result of the finding. The implication of the study on the state Ministry of Education (MOE), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), College Administrators, Staff and Students as well as curriculum planners were highlighted. The finding of the study will enable the MOE and NBTE to identify the technical skills required and will act as a guide in the recruitment of staff for instruction and management. Some recommendations based on the findings and suggestion for further study were made.



Background of the Study

Every organization is made up of an aggregate of inputs, which are processed to produce output. The quality of input and processes involved accounts for the quality of output. The inputs in a Technical College as one of the educational organizations include teachers, students, finances, facilities and equipment, these are converted through teaching and learning for desirable outputs such as educated school leavers that are better equipped to serve themselves and the society (Gboyega, 2008). Achieving quality and productivity in every organization demands a careful selection of qualitative input factors. One of the most significant input factors in every organization is the personnel. For an organization to meet its set objectives, depends on the quality of its available human resources The human resource component of a managerial outfit is the most critical factor in the realization of the organization’s goals and objectives (Gboyega, 2008). The human resources are the personnel who work in an organization aimed at bringing about the expected results.

Skill acquisition as one of the expected result of an organization is the bedrock of any developing nation particularly now that unemployment is becoming a serious problem facing the nation (Dike, 2009). In technical institutions, the situation is made worst when graduates pass out of school with little or no employable skills. Skill acquisition involves the development of skills gained through practice, training or experience (Gumbari, 2009). The importance of skill acquisition cannot be over emphasized because its roles to national development are multi-dimensional but of particular mention are the following: elimination of hunger and poverty; reduction or elimination of joblessness and reduction of crime through effective engagement of youths (Gumbari, 2009). In Nigeria, skill acquisition is hoped to be achieved through technical education.

Technical education is an aspect of education that leads to acquisition of practical and applied skills as well as basic scientific knowledge (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Technical education is the foundation of nations’ wealth and development. It is a type of education that is meant to produce semi-skilled, skilled and technical manpower necessary to restore, re-vitalize, energize, operate and sustain the national economy and substantially reduce unemployment (Ogundola, Abiodun and Oke, 2010). It is the form of education involving in addition to general education the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of the economic and social life (FRN, 2004). This specialized education is offered in technical institutions, including Technical Colleges, saddled with the responsibility of training low and middle level manpower. Technical Colleges in Nigeria are established to produce craftsmen and master craftsmen (Federal Ministry of Education, 2003). The courses offered1 at the Technical Colleges lead to the award of National Technical Certificate (NTC) and Advanced National Technical Certificate (ANTC). The programmes of Technical Colleges, according to Federal Government of Nigeria (2004) are grouped into related trades. These include, construction trades, computer trades, electrical/electronics trade, textile trades, Business trades, printing trades and mechanical trades.