Higher education and manpower development: an assessment of the contributions of the University of Uyo

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Manpower development, now commonly referred to as human resource development, is an ongoing process that analyzes, forecast and projects an organization’s future manpower requirements.  In other words, manpower development focuses on such issues as whether the organization is ready to compensate for the loss of experience from retiring employees and if employees are adequately prepared to implement organizational change with their skills as a result of the experience they have gained from their various higher institutions.  Manpower development is a process that seeks to optimize an organization’s usage of its human resources.  It requires an integrated approach that addresses multidimensional aspects of employees, ranging from enhancing technical and interpersonal skills to creative thinking and leadership.
In human resource development, learning and training for individuals and organizations, John P. Wilson says the term development implies an improved situation attained by an individual through learning.
Richard A. Sawson and Elwood F. Holton in “Foundations of Human Resource Development” define human resource development (a more recent term for manpower development) as a process that helps develop human expertise through personnel development with the objective of enhancing performance.
Manpower development is a term used to describe the individuals who make up the workforce of an organization. Manpower development which can also be referred to Human Resource development is also the name of the function within an organization charged with the overall responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals.
Purpose and Role of Manpower Development
In simple terms, an organization’s human resource management strategy should maximize return on investment in the organization’s human capital and minimize financial risk.  Human resource managers seek to achieve this by aligning the supply of skilled and qualified individuals and the capabilities of the current workforce, with the organization’s ongoing and future business plans and requirements to maximize return on investment and secure future survival and success.  In ensuring such objective are achieved, the human resource function is to implement an organization’s human resource requirements effectively, taking into account federal, state and local labour laws and regulations, ethical business practices and net cost, in a manner that maximizes as far as possible employee motivation, commitment and productivity.
Approaches to Manpower Development
Human Capital Approach
Human capital is the stock of competencies, knowledge and personality attitudes embodied in the ability to perform labour so as to produce economic value.  It is the attributes gained by a worker through education and experience.  Many early economic theories refer to it simply as workforce, one of three factors of production, and consider it to be a fungible resource.
Adam Smith defined human capital as the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the society.  The acquisition of such talents, by the maintenance of the acquirer during his education, study, or apprenticeship, always costs a real expense, which is a capital fixed and realized as it were in his person.  The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same light as a machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and abridges labour and which though it costs a certain expense, repays that expense with a profit.
Therefore, Smith argued the productive powers of labour are both dependent on the division of labour.  “The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour and the greater part of the skill, dexterity and judgment with which it is any where directed or applied seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.
Lewis (1954) is said to have begun the field of Economic development and consequently the idea of human capital when he wrote a book titled: the “Economic Development with unlimited supplies of labour”.  The term “human capital” was not used due to its negative undertones until it was first discussed by Arthur Cecil Pigou.  “There is such a thing as investment in human capital as well as investment in material capital”.
The set of skills which an employee acquires on the job, through training and experience and which increase that employee’s value in the market place can be seen as human capital.  Human capital is the abilities and skills of any individual, especially those acquired through investment in education and training that enhance potential income earnings.
The concept of human capital can be interpreted in many ways.  One of them could be looking at the person as an asset, as a resource that belongs to the organization and from which we can demand all its capacity and commitment.  A more suitable definition is that human capital is a treasure that a company or institution ha available with respect to the qualification of the personnel that works there.  Therefore, human capital represents the value that each employee brings to the table, according to his/her studies, knowledge, capabilities and skills.
Educational Approach to Manpower Development
Manpower development is the building and enhancement of human resources through formal education and training.  It is therefore an important prerequisite for national development.  Realizing the importance of manpower development, African countries have expended a significant part of their meager resources in planning, development and utilization of human resources.  Hence, the magnitude of the issue lends this research significant.  As indicated by Abegaz, a theoretical underpinning that explains the concept and approach in manpower planning is vital.  This study focused on individuals who possess higher education or its equivalent.  Individuals with education at university level and some work experience are expected to play an important role in national development.
Along with manpower development goes manpower planning, and the mobilization of human resource in order to achieve desired outcomes.  This entails the number of people to be educated and trained within a given time frame for specific job performance.  From the point of manpower policy formulation to its implementation, there are serious flaws to be reckoned with.  Some of the problems are, taking data in order to appease the people or enhance the power of politicians, lack of relationship between training and performance on the job, educating or training personnel for non-existing jobs, failure to absorb trained and highly educated personnel and status inconsistency whereby people occupy high level jobs or are given titles that are inconsistent with their training.  Another constraint is “brain drain”, wherein highly skilled individuals from Africa migrate to the developed industrial countries in search of opportunities for economic advancement.  While investment in manpower development is significant, the exodus of highly developed human resource from Africa is a great loss to the continent.
Universities produce the technical and professional manpower needed to promote and control all aspects of development. Universities in Africa, like University of Benin faculty on the projection of their manpower surveys.  But there are doubts as to whether a university development plan should be set exclusively by the government’s estimates of manpower requirements.  Higher education in Nigeria is seen as the prime basis for high level manpower development.  Hence, the emphasis placed on expansion of universities to catch up and achieve more even development.
Education is what helps us to acquire suitable appreciation of our cultural heritage and to live a fully more satisfying life.  This includes the acquisition of desirable knowledge, skills, habits, values for productive living in the society.  It equips the members of any human group with the capabilities of personal survival in and contributing to other group survival in the wider world (Alade, 2006).  The foregoing explains that the end and purposes of education include the cognitive development of deeper intellectual skills, the acquisition of technical skills and character training concerned with the appreciations, feelings and values of these educated.  It is also crystal clear that education reverse to both the process by which we acquire knowledge, skills, habits and values as well as the results of the process, that involves both learning and teaching.  So, no one would doubt the value of being educated in any community.  A clear testimony of this statement is in the adage: “If you plan for one year, plant rice, if you plan for 10 years plant trees, if you plan for 100 years educate a person”.  Indeed the best and long lasting gift any one can offer to someone or a community in this regard is good education.  This is unambiguously incompatible to the gift of silver, gold or diamond.  Education is one of the correlates of socio-economic, cultural, political, democratic, technological and medico-legal development of a nation.
Education thus restores to mankind its humanity.  It is globally a very vital element for social development and economic growth all over the world.  This explains why nations have expended a lot of resources on education.  Education in general and higher education in particular are fundamental to the construction of a knowledge, economy and society in all nations (Okebukola, 2000).  Yet the potential of higher education systems in developing countries to fulfill this responsibility is frequently thwarted by long standing problems of finance, efficiency, equity, quality and governance among others.  Now, these old challenge have been augmented by new challenges linked to the growing role of knowledge in economic development, rapid changes in manpower skills and the globalization of trade and labour markets (Obi, 2003).
Education is often linked to schooling and schooling improves productivity, health and reduces negative features of life such as child labour as well as bringing about employment.  This is why there has been a lot of emphasis particularly in recent times for all citizens of the world to have access to basic education.  Education as a social institution therefore could be seen as a great value concerned with imparting knowledge and skills which help an individual to participate in society and nation building (Roman-Yusuf, 2003).  At the tertiary levels, it is no news that university system is a medium through which objectives of education are expected to be achieved. In an examination of the concept of university, Adebayo (2005), declared that in the Middle Ages, the word university meant an association, a guild, a corporation, just like a guild of craftsmen or traders.  The university at the beginning was an association of teachers or scholars.  The university was a body of persons gathered in a particular place for the dissemination and assimilation of knowledge in advanced fields of study.  Today, the university is an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic and innovation for the over all socio-economic empowerment of individuals and community development (Babalola & Okediran, 1997).

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