Fostering Innovation Through Leadership, Skills Acquisition, Collaboration and Competition

Written by: Omokungbe, F1, Akeredolu, I2., Rufus, A. A.3 & Agamah F.U4

Department; Civil Engineering1, Nutrition & Dietetics2, Social Sciences3, Urban & Regional Planning4, Yaba College of Technology


Empowering youths through vocational skills, particularly in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and tertiary establishments, opens the door towards innovative solutions, entrepreneurship, and job opportunities. This study described the efforts of Yaba College of Technology (YCT) as a TVET institution towards promoting innovation through leadership, skill acquisition, collaboration, and competition. Quantitative and qualitative data (Focus Group discussion) was obtained from primary and secondary sources. To analyse quantitative and qualitative data, descriptive statistics and content analysis were used. Results show YCT, as a TVET institution, offers a wide range of technical and vocational programmes across her eight schools, with Research & Development (R&D) resulting in a variety of products and services from waste recycling. These have not only led to winning innovative competitions but have also attracted grants through collaboration with other institutions. Although YCT has high-level innovation potential and is committed to skills development, there is a need for R&D to be translated into products and services that will improve Teaching and Learning and make room for additional product development to meet societal needs.

Keywords: TVET, Research & Development, Innovation and Skills.


Human civilization is faced with evolving challenges and uncertainties at global and local levels. Rapid urbanization and population growth comes with high demand for production, consumption and modifications to the environment. The increased demand for natural resources, power, transport, and industrialization, have significant implications on resilience, liveability, and sustenance. These constitute a direct proportional demand for innovation which is essential for developing competitive systems driven by policy.

The success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is hinged on education (education for sustainable development), by implication, a necessity to build and develop the requisite skills- set that aligns with the demand and current realities bridging the gap between the school, industry and labour market, (Mbanefo & Ebokab 2017).  Hence, vocational skills and innovation are exceptional paths for sustenance especially in a nation such as Nigeria faced with high unemployment and consequent insecurity and poverty challenges amongst others. Empowering youths through inter/intra-disciplinary vocational skills, especially in TVET and tertiary institutions, creates prospects for innovative solutions, entrepreneurship and job opportunities. This is corroborated by Gbagolo & Eze, (2014) emphasizing skills acquisition as essential for entrepreneurship and job creation especially for the youth.  Hence, bridging the gap between the school and the labour market (Mbanefo & Ebokab, 2017). It is the link between societies and emerging economies, (Findikoglu & Ilhan, 2016).

Innovation has been critical to civilization, quality of life and has fostered development from the ancient times. Fuad et al. (2020) described innovation as a booster of productivity with significant influence on the education sector, teaching methods, learning outcomes and practice. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD (2016) defines innovation as an enhanced or novel procedure, goods, services, and strategy.  The 21st century challenges require contemporary approaches and capacity to develop and engage innovation for mitigation, resilience, competitiveness. These approaches, as corroborated by Dabic & Potocan (2015) are predominantly leveraged on advanced sciences, engineering, information and communication technologies. For Serdyukov, (2019) innovation entails moving beyond existing scenarios towards developing novel ideas that enables best practices, productivity and sustainable solutions.

The relevance for innovation is enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal four (4) of the sustainable development goals provides education as critical for skill development. Education provides environment for instruction that spur innovation and shift of focus from existing information to producing new knowledge where according to Findikoglu & Ilhan, (2016) students are the centre.

Hence the educational sector is faced with changing philosophy, integrating innovation into pedagogy, instructional tools, techniques and curriculum towards enhancing teaching and learning which translates to competences for present skills demand (Serdyukov, 2017). Within this background, Sauphayana, (2021) defined innovation as a planned activity aimed at improving students’ preparedness through engagement and interactivity.

These, as determined by scope and focus can be categorized as either disruptive, revolutionary, evolutionary, or sustaining of existing achievements, Serdyukov (2017). These are aimed at systems change and reform, restoration of obsolete systems, incremental changes and ensuring performance levels are maintained through continuous improvement of the curriculum respectively.

He further explained that evolutionary novelties would consist of the insertion of contemporary audio-visual aid resources, up-to-date memory aid systems, additional proficient coaching plans, and the initiation of a unique studying approaches such as case study, inquisitive learning, critical thinking, small group discussion, or team work.

In an earlier study, Supapawawisit et al. (2018) discovered that organization’s principle is a key factor that influence the value of originality. While Li et al. (2019), found a positive relationship between increased innovation in higher educational institutions (HEIs) and organisational culture. They also found the organisational culture to be the most important contributing factor of the originality level in education administration and leadership of an academic institution.  In 2021, Sauphayana stated that innovation in leadership is promoting partnership among interested party, both outside and inside the institution. Internally, collaboration and joint effort lead to the coming together of departments to gain knowledge from one another. Externally, the institution’s cooperation boosts collaborations with other companies and industries. They also found innovations in leadership to develop an exceptional ability to put into practise profound and lasting modifications concerning organizational efficiency. While in a study conducted on various education leaders globally, Ellis et, al. (2020) observed innovation in leadership within the HEIs was enhanced by the covid pandemic.

Although effectiveness of the educational system to produce self-reliant graduates had been queried in the past, scholars like Ademola (2013) mentioned that Nigeria’s graduate unemployment has become pronounced since 1993 because of the upsurge in tertiary educational institution outputs and the inelastic absorptive ability of the labour market. Odey, Abutu, Tijjani, Ojulokunrin & Abdulmalik (2020) also raised concerns about skill mismatch in TVET institutions in Nigeria. They identified three skills that would be needed in the post-covid era including interpersonal skills, technical craft skills (or TVET skills), and business knowlegde.  Gbagolo and Eze, (2014) linked insecurity to unemployment in Nigeria.

Yet other scholars view TVET as a panacea for unemployment and insecurity. For example, Anho (2014) viewed entrepreneurship education as a well-designed training that will provide solution for joblessness, and poverty eradication for national wellbeing, as education continued to be the most important tool for national improvement for many countries across the globe. Otolorin, (2017) posited that there is a relationship between job creation and skill acquisition that will help reduce insecurity. Gofwan et al., (2019) in a paper that focused on reducing joblessness and security treats among the youths  in Nigeria via TVET found that professional and practical training could aid self-independent, autonomy, go-getting, and can make individual accountable for their own future.

Yaba College of Technology (YCT) as a TVET institution situated at the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria is surrounded by hundreds of industries and businesses that look up to it to provide essential middle-level manpower and several innovative products for their competitive advantage. Consequently, the College offers diverse technical and vocational programmes in various fields ranging from Art, Design, and Printing to Engineering, Environmental Studies, Liberal Studies, Management and Business Studies, etc. YCT also established several special centres to drive innovations in learning, research, and development. She ensures a switch from the ‘usual manner’ and entrenches a culture of continuous improvement, inclusive education, entrepreneurial training, and robust teaching and learning system towards a sustainable ecosystem. She practices SDG 4 “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” to achieve SDG 7 “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all”. This study describes the efforts of Yaba College of Technology (YCT) as a TVET institution in promoting innovation through leadership, skills acquisition, collaboration, and competition.


This study combined both quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (Focus Group Discussion) approaches for data gathering. The questionnaire was used to obtain information from schools in the college on the available technical and vocational skill programmes offered, the products and services created through research efforts as well as competition and grants won in the past. The questionnaire had four sections, the first contained questions on the technical and vocational skills programmes of her various schools. The second section contained questions about products and services created from R & D and their usage. The third section contained questions about competitions schools participated in and won in the last five years.

Focus Group Discussions were held with stakeholders within the college community (Management, Administrators, Lecturers, and Students) respectively on innovation practices that are available within the college using a balanced scorecard. The balanced scorecard was designed by UNESCO- UNEVOC (2019) to assess the level of innovation in selected institutions as innovation hubs. This balanced scorecard contains four dimensions; Leadership and Organizational Practices, Teaching and Learning Processes, Products and Services as well as Skills and Innovation Ecosystem.

The leadership and organisational practices encapsulate the apparent change in the institutional behavioural and physical characteristics. The teaching and learning process enables institutions to implement transformative teaching and learning, as well as change through the adoption of new approaches or methods, an adaptation of existing approaches, and the development of new approaches that utilize various tools, techniques, and methods.  Innovation at the product and service level helps describe outcomes that enhance better curricula, methodologies, pedagogical tools, and infrastructure. While skills and Innovation Ecosystems give institutions structure, connectivity, and engagement with the various actors and players in an institutional environment. Questions from each dimension provided rating options for discussants that indicated the current level of innovation on the topic discussed. Questionnaires were analyzed using descriptive statistics while FGDs were content analyzed.

Results and Discussion

The study result showed that YCT is a TVET institution with diverse technical and vocational programmes and that all (eight) schools within the college have the technical and vocational skills they offer. Table 1 shows the available skills per school.

Table 1: List of Technical and Vocational skills in YCT

SchoolTechnical and vocational programmes
Art, Design and PrintingFashion Design, Textile Design, and Sculpture
EngineeringAutomobile, Welding and Fabrication, Building Technology including Blockwork and Bricklaying, Agricultural and Bioenvironmental Engineering
Environmental StudiesSurvey and Geo-informatics, Carpentry, and Interior decoration
 Liberal StudiesPhotography and Cinematography
Management and Business StudiesOffice Technology Management, Accounting, and Marketing
ScienceEnvironmental Biology and Instrumentation
Technical Education Home Economics and Industrial Technical Education
 TechnologyHospitality Management, Computer Technology, and Baking Technology
Technical and Vocational skills in YCT

These skills programmes have over time contributed hugely to the preparation of Technicians and Technologists for the world of work.  They also ensure a switch from the ‘usual’ and continuous improvement of inclusive education through entrepreneurial training for robust teaching and learning system to a sustainable ecosystem. Thus, reducing security challenges that arise from idleness among able-bodied youths.  Otolorin (2017) observed that there is a relationship between job creation and skills acquisition that will help reduce insecurity.

Leadership Structure

The result of the FGD indicates that the leadership organization practice of YCT is committed to innovation and that everyone in YCT is committed to the actualization of the institution’s vision and mission statement. This is achieved with the management’s support for the development of innovation through strategic planning focused on the vision of the college. This affirms the findings of Li et al. (2019) that a positive relationship exists between increased innovation in higher educational institutions and organisational culture.  Significant human, infrastructure, and financial investments have been made in research, training, and development.  Management ensures that part of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and grants from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund) are directed towards research and development.

Teaching and Learning Processes

Findings from the focus group discussion revealed that good resources are committed to the teaching and learning process, however, some people in the ecosystem are not aware of the innovative approaches. There is also not enough information dissemination from staff undertaking the various research. The innovative approach to Teaching and Learning is not systemic yet because there is no policy backing it. The College is not fully autonomous and regulatory bodies may not encourage immediate adoption of some ideas as there are procedures for curriculum development. 

Products and Services

The study also revealed that some products were generated as a result of Research and Development (R&D), waste-to-wealth practices, and clean energy generation within the college.

Table 2. Waste to Wealth Product Creation

S/NDepartmentProductWaste MaterialsUse
1ArtSculpturesPet bottles, coconut shells, used matches, damaged building metals etc.Aesthetic
2Biological ScienceEdible MushroomsSawdust, corncob, and agricultural wasteEdibles and Clearing of polluted soil
3Chemical scienceEthanolYam and cassava peelsLaboratory use
4Chemical scienceBiogasKitchen wasteLaboratory use and power generation
5Electrical EngineeringIndigenous solar panelUsed can (food and drinks)Power generation
6.Polymer and TextileShoe polishSachet water nylonShoe Polish
7Polymer and TextilePaperEnvelopesEnvelops and paper wraps.
Waste to Wealth Product Creation

The result in the table above shows some of the products generated from R & D activities that are student-focused. The findings of Findikoglu & Ilhan, (2016) show that when students are at the centre of instructional environment it will spur innovation and shift their focus from merely using existing information to producing new knowledge.

The FGD result also revealed that although Yaba College of Technology is a research and development-enabled environment and career progression is linked to R & D, these research works have not translated to an adequate number of products that solve problems within the ecosystem. It was also observed that most developed products are not being improved to meet market standards but left as samples for exhibitions.

Competitions and Grants

Interconnectivity was observed between R&D, Consultancy and Entrepreneurship. YCT was found to encourage dissemination of R&D nationally and internationally through attendance of stakeholders at conferences, exhibitions, participation in different competitions and so on. An  example is the World Bank Step-B (Innovators of Tomorrow) Project in 2011 where 4 students of the Department of Biological Sciences of the College won awards for research and innovation to identify and domesticate indigenous edible mushrooms for the Nigerian market. The mushroom project in YCT was further strengthened by the Innovate Lagos Grant by the Lagos state government awarded in 2014 to a YCT staff in collaboration with other researchers from the University of Lagos. Another example is the production of a shelter with Coca-cola glass bottles at Babcock University, Ilisan. (2016 Coca-cola competition) These competitions were won using waste generated within the ecosystem (As agricultural wastes are used in growing edible mushrooms and used pet bottles are collected and recycled) and have helped solve problems of waste management and job creation in society. This corroborates Sauphayana’s (2021) definition of innovation as a planned action aimed at initiating novelty into a setting that enhances students’ preparedness through engagement and interactivity.

Skills and Innovation Ecosystem

YCT enjoys collaborations with other public and private sectors through diverse Public-Private partnership programmes which have positively enhanced the development of innovative practices. Stakeholders during the FGD identified organizations that YCT had collaborated with, including but not limited to Dufil Prima Foods PLC, Rose of Sharon, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), LONADEK, Flour Mills Nigeria plc, Michael Otedola Foundation, TETFUND, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Industrial Training Fund, Flour Milling Association, Coca-cola Plc.  Innovation in YCT has resulted in the improvement of various interventions such as Inclusiveness and Gender Equality, Teacher Training, Professional Development, Work-based Learning and Leadership Training. Innovation in leadership promote collaboration among stakeholders, both externally and internally (Sauphayana, 2021)


The innovation path of YCT has witnessed growth and development challenges using the balanced scorecard: These include resistance to change, human capital development, adaptation, orientation, and so on. However, these challenges are gradually being tackled through interventions from the government (provision of funds both for human and capital development), public-private partnerships, training, and re-training of staff.


Although YCT has high-level innovation potential and is committed to skills development, there is a need for the translation of R&D into products and services that will further improve Teaching and Learning and create room for more product development to meet societal needs. There is a need for YCT to reach out more to the world (local and international) with efforts to deploy and facilitate synergy with NGOs, industries, and other relevant institutions to strengthen the collaboration among staff.  Information about research and product development should be disseminated periodically through appropriate centres to the college community.

Your opinion

What do you think? Comment below. Voice your opinion. If you also want to get published in TVET journal, please read more about what we require from a guest post:

Anho, J. E. 2014. Entrepreneurship Education: A Panacea for Unemployment, Poverty Reduction and National Insecurity in Developing and Underdeveloped Countries. American International Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 4 No. 3

Ellis, V., Steadman, S., & Mao, Q. 2020. ‘Come to a screeching halt’: Can change in teacher education during the COVID-19 pandemic be seen as innovation? European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 559-572.

Findikoglu, F., & İlhan, D. 2016. Realisation of a Desired Future: Innovation in Education. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(11), 2574-2580. Findikoglu, F., & İlhan, D. (2016). Realisation of a Desired Future: Innovation in Education. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(11), 2574-2580.

Fuad, Musa & Yusof.  2020. Innovation in Education, Journal of Educational Research and Indigenous Studies Volume: 2 (1).

Gbagolo, H.M.O. & Eze, B. I. 2014 Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Training for Youth, a Panacea for Unemployment and Nigerian InsecurityEuropean Journal of

Business and Management, Vol.6, No.25. ISSN 2222-1905

Gofwan, J.D. Shedrach, G.M and Ishaya. J. 2019. Curbing Youth Unemployment and Insecurity in Nigeria: Vocational and Technical Education Imperative. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS). Volume 24, Issue 2

Jacob, D.G. 2019. Curbing Youth Unemployment and Insecurity in Nigeria: Vocational and Technical Education Imperative. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSRJHSS). vol. 24 no. 02, pp. 28-33

Koyuncuoglu, D. 2021. An investigation of potential leadership and innovation skills of university students. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology (IJEMST), 9(1), 103-115.

Li, W., Bhutto, T., Nasiri, A., Shaikh, H., & Samo, F. 2017. Organizational innovation: the role of leadership and organizational culture. International Journal of Public Leadership, 14(1), 33-47.

OECD 2016, Innovating Education and Educating for Innovation: The Power of Digital Technologies and Skills, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Odey, S. A., Abutu, F. Tijjani, H. K., Ojulokunrin, R. W.  & Abdulmalik, S. O. 2020. Post COVID-19 Skills for National Development and Youth Employability in Nigeria. Annals of Technology Education Practitioners Association of Nigeria, 3(4), 85-95.

Otolorin G. E. 2017. Determinants of human insecurity in Nigeria and their impact on economic growth.  A Paper Presented at the Nigeria Economic Society’s South-South Economic Conference (SSREC). November 6th-8th, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria.

Sauphayana, S. 2021.  Innovation in Higher Education Management and Leadership. Journal of Educational and Social Research.  2(6)  DOI:

Serdyukov, P. 2017. Innovation in education: what works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it? Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning. 10 (1), 4-33.

Supapawawisit, B., Chandrachai, A., & Thawesaengskulthai, N. 2018. The critical factors of research and innovation creation in public universities in Thailand. International Journal of Trade and Global Markets, 11(1/2), 109.

UNESCO-UNEVOC. 2019. Innovation Toolbox; The Balanced Scorecard.

Share this:

2 thoughts on “Fostering Innovation Through Leadership, Skills Acquisition, Collaboration and Competition”

  1. Kindly i write a paper and submitted for publication in february 2023 by tvet after a series of corrections from your editors . kindly am still waiting.


Leave a Comment