Many a Nigerian has had cause to, and continues to make enquiries regarding the status of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) in Nigeriaís education system. These Nigeriansí concerns are well founded because they are an exemplification of the level of their interest in the future of the country, a future which, going by the content of the information they seek must, among other noble values, be based on a solid science and technology education nurtured by a deep commitment to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Indeed the importance of an education with a science, technical and vocational, as well as entrepreneurial focus has continued to attract worldwide attention and support, as policy attention to TVET, though still not on equal basis, is gaining ascendancy on the education agendas of nations. However, efforts are not relenting to bridge the gaps and set minimum standards of investment and dedication in TVET which forward-looking nations must attain. This is necessary since the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) sees TVET, which comprises formal, non-formal and informal learning, as vital for poverty reduction, economic recovery and sustainable development.
To underscore the growing necessity for TVET, UNESCO in May 2012 convened the Third International Congress on TVET in Shanghai, China, with the theme ëTransforming TVET: Building Skills for Work and Lifeí, which led to the adoption of the Shanghai Consensus. Over 500 representatives from 117 countries attended the Congress, which considered ways of transforming TVET to make it more responsive to the needs of 21st century societies.
One of the notable recommendations in the document is ëadapting qualifications and developing pathwaysí. But two sub-sets of this recommendation are noteworthy. These are the provision of support for flexible pathways and the accumulation, recognition and transfer of individual learning through transparent, well-articulated outcome-based qualifications systems, as well as the linking of TVET with general education to ensure to ensure flexible pathways at all levels and facilitate the progression of TVET learners to higher levels of education as part of lifelong learning strategies.
The good news here is that Nigeria already has the platform for actualising the sub-sets of this recommendation in NABTEB, and all that needed to be done is for the citizenry to take advantage of the Boardís examinations and usher themselves to glorious pathways to employment, wealth creation, economic prosperity and self-reliance. For purpose of clarity, NABTEB is not a science, vocation or business training institute. It is a body that conducts business and technical, as well as modular examinations, and it is empowered and recognised by law to carry out these functions as a statutory responsibility. The kernel here is that while TVET builds skills for work and life, NABTEB assesses and certifies these skills for work and life.
The NABTEBís major examinations series are conducted every year in March or any other pre-arranged period for candidates (artisans) in modules of examinable and certifiable skills, May/June for in-school students, and November/December for private candidates. These examinations lead to the award of National Business Certificate (NBC), National Technical Certificate (NTC), Advanced National Business Certificate (ANBC), Advanced National Technical Certificate (ANTC), and Modular Trade Certificate (MTC). The Board also conducts Common Entrance Examinations to both State and Federal Science and Technical Colleges.
The Board issues both academic and professional qualifications. Academically, the NBC and the NTC is at par with the Senior School Certificate awarded by other examination bodies. Indeed the NBC/NTC and the ANBC/ANTC are listed in the brochure of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) as requirements for admission – either as Ordinary Level (Oí Level) or Advanced Level (Aí Level/Direct Entry) qualifications ñ to universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions.
The NBC/NTC and the ANBC/ANTC are now listed in the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF) recently approved by the Federal Executive Council. The holders of these certificates can register with professional/regulatory bodies in their respective fields of specialisation. The significance of this is that they are professionals and can easily secure decent jobs even in the formal sectors of the world of work.
Therefore, from the recently approved NVQF, the NBC/NTC would be placed on Grade Level 05 (CONRAIS 04) while the ANBC/ANTC would be on Grade Level 06 (CONRAISS 05) in the public and private sectors. Besides, holders of ANBC/ANTC being on the Executive/Technical Officer cadre can have an upward mobility to Grade Level 14 (CONRAISS 12).
For the avoidance of doubt, the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are competence-based qualifications, acquired at workplace, which demonstrate that the holder has the skills and aptitude required to perform a certain job. These qualifications are organised at different levels and are awarded to demonstrate the level of work-based competency the learner has achieved. The NVQs are a statement of competence relevant to work and intended to facilitate entry into or progression in employment and further learning, issued to an individual by a recognised awarding body.
Besides, NABTEB is saddled with the responsibility of conducting the National Vocational Certificate Examinations and awarding the National Vocational Certificate (NVC) which is in three levels, namely NVC1, NVC2 and NVC3. The NVC is a certificate obtained on the completion of Vocational Enterprise Institutions (VEIs) and Innovation Enterprise Institutions (IEIs).
The VEIs and IEIs, by their design and as established by the Federal Government, are institutions – whether public or private or public-private partnership – that offer vocational, technical, technological or professional education and training at post-basic and tertiary levels to equip secondary school leavers and working persons with vocational skills and knowledge to meet the rising demand for technical manpower in the various sectors of Nigeriaís economy.
Furthermore, the VEIs, IEIs, NVC and NVQ, as envisaged by their initiators, are expected to be a credible alternative form of education, certification and qualification that will take care of the interests of the following: school leavers who wish to acquire practical skills with a view to securing or generating;  employment; persons seeking career paths that do not need university degrees; persons without time for full time study but are in need of advancing their skills; adults seeking opportunities to re-skill themselves; university graduates seeking employable skills; and persons wishing to be self-employed.
The VEIs run on modules. The NABTEB also conducts Modular Trades Certificate (MTC) examinations. In other words, NABTEB is up to speed in this regard. The Board has developed over 100 modules across 40 trades in fulfilment of her mandate and response to worldwide reforms and emerging trends in modern industrial and technological training modes, assessment and certification process. The MTC examinations are divided into five broad related trades, namely: Building Construction, Electrical/Electronics, Mechanical Engineering, Miscellaneous/Hospitality, and Business Trades.
The MTC examinations are designed for interest groups in TVET such as vocational training schools/centres, industrial establishments, apprenticeship training outfits, non-government organisations (NGOs), entrepreneurship training organisations, rural development programmes, the innovative enterprise career schools, and centres for training ex-militants.

• Uchechukwu Olisah is Senior Press Officer with the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB).