An Exploration of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Students’ Choices, Experiences and Aspirations
: A Case Study of Three Technical Colleges in Lagos, Nigeria

  • Onosetale Opara

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores why a group of young people within a developing context (Nigeria) who are able to participate in traditional academic education choose to rather participate in TVET. These students were studying engineering related courses in TVET. The study is motivated by a dearth of TVET research in developing countries, specifically regarding the understanding of TVET based on the voices of the students themselves. Drawing on Bourdieu's critical sociological theory, the study adopts an interpretivist leaning, a qualitative approach and a case study strategy. With the aid of semi-structured interviews, the life grid and some observations, data was collected from twenty-five students participating in TVET across three TVET centres in South-Eastern Nigeria. Significantly, this study explores how young people narrate and navigate the tensions between TVET as an opportunity and the cultural barriers associated with TVET. Findings show that participants’ decisions regarding TVET are shaped by familial and social ties (parents, family, friends and teachers) and sociocultural and economic factors (ethnicity, social class and depressed labour market). A high rate of unemployment, though, seemed to drive the entrepreneurial spirit in students because TVET was synonymised with a quicker way to financial independence. However, there were paradoxes: while university education was seen as prestigious, prestige was seen as symbolic because it was perceived to lack material benefits. University graduates were frequently narrated as being without jobs and skills. Still, TVET was often perceived as a place for those with low academic ability, but availed one employment in some capacity, assurance of skills and an income. Overall, the study contributes to the field of youth education, youth transitioning and career decision-making by showing how contextual dynamics can be accounted for, challenged and addressed regarding the educational choices of young people in culturally diverse and developing contexts.
Date of Award23 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKevin Orr (Main Supervisor) & Wayne Bailey (Co-Supervisor)

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