The first set of trained chefs and and hospitality managers graduated from the Ibadan-based Royal Spices Academy on Thursday, charting a new course in the industry.
The academy, which is located at 20 Oluyole Industrial Estate, 7up Road, is a school of catering and hospitality management, producing professional chefs, personnel and entrepreneurs in the food industry.
At the ceremony which was held at the World Lylies Event centre behind Queens College, Apata Ibadan, on Thursday April, 11, 23 graduands held their heads high having successfully completed the rigorous theoretical and practical training at the institute to obtain either certificate or diploma in catering and hospitality management.
It was the academy’s first graduation ceremony.
Addressing the graduands and guests at the ceremony, the Rector and Chief Executive Officer of the academy, Dr. Mrs. Olufunmi Adegbile, revealed that though it was the school’s first graduation ceremony, Royal Spices as a company started in 1991.
She said: “The story of Royal Spices Academy cannot be told without telling the story of Royal Spices Company.
“Royal Spices Company took off in 1991 with a well-defined vision/mission which was to change the face of providing food and food-related services. Emphasis was on quality food and quality presentation of the meal. Hitherto, both the service providers as well as the consuming public seemed satisfied with the basic provision of cooked meals presented plainly without frills or fancy.”
The rector pointed out that the need to do things differently from others led to the conceptualization of an educational institution, hence the birth of Royal Spices Academy.
“With time the educationist in the visioner of Royal Spices had to find expression, and the urge to do something different from the rest of the crowd led to the conceptualization of an educational institution that will provide well-trained personnel that will serve , in a qualitative way, the high end of the catering sector.”
Adegbile also promised that the institute was ready to contribute its quota to the economy by training youths to become employers of labour.
“Royal Spices Academy is poised to contribute her own quota to the Nigerian economy and society by preparing willing youths to become professionals in the culinary arts, to become employable on the one hand, and to become employers of labour themselves.”
The keynote speaker, Prof.Tunji Olaopa, explained that youth unemployment and poverty are the post-independence socio-economic crisis in Nigeria.
Olaopa, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), highlighted the factors that contributed to youth unemployment in Nigeria.
According to him, “So many factors and variables explain Nigeria’s unemployment dilemma. I will mention a few. First, Nigeria’s higher education dynamics is the first culprit as it enables a curriculum crisis which truncates what ought to be a smooth school-to-work transition. Second, there is a critical dearth in the industrial skill needs including areas of current and emerging skills shortages and competencies paraded by products of colleges and universities in Nigeria.
“Third, there is a low level of enterprise-based training and investment going by international standards. Fourth, there is changing structure of labour market’s due to changing global flexible employment practices, work patterns, globalization of HR that has formalized the institutionalization of brain drain and the level of competitiveness defining career growth.
“Fifth, there is a demographic change and high population growth rates which throw up two contradictory trends of ageing workforce with attendant organizational amnesia on the hand and challenge of equipping the restless youthful but nomadic new generation workforce with adaptive and multi-skilling flexibilities.
“And last, there are also critical issues of the availability of jobs and employments, and their capacity to employ.”
Highlighting solutions to the problem, Olaopa explained that government must provide the framework for developing skills and competencies needed in today’s workplace in citizens while individuals should also seek ways to pursue their dreams through the blue-collar vocations and entrepreneurial routes such as the type being offered by Royal Spices Academy.
His words: “There are two levels of solution to the issue of unemployment in Nigeria. One is state-based, and the other is individual-based. “On the part of the Nigerian government, all the necessary frameworks with regard to employment and education are in place. The National Policy on Education and such agencies as the ITF, NDE, SMEDAN, etc. constitute crucial institutional dynamics around which the task of ameliorating unemployment can be achieved.
“The global world today is one that requires any aspiring individuals, especially, to find a unique relationship between certificate and vocation in the attempt to find a niche in the competitive world. It is indeed the responsibility of states like Nigeria to facilitate how their educational framework would become one in which individuals can enable their own empowerment through an entrepreneurial and vocational training which the state itself tries as much as possible to make possible.”
The graduands expressed satisfaction with the quality of training they received at the academy, assuring that they were fully prepared to become major players in the industry in the future.