Derayo Animashaun is the Executive Director of De’rayo Vocational Limited, a vocational centre that has rebranded arts and craft from Nigeria to the international community. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, she narrates how she began in the world of creative arts. The graduate of the National Open University of Nigeria and Lagos Business School advises the Nigerian government to inculcate vocational training into the current school curriculum. According to her, this will return honour to vocational education especially when courses such as fashion and textile designing, woodwork/carpentry, welding and blacksmithing, Pottery etc. are accredited and introduced into the formal educational curriculum as white-collar jobs dwindle in the labour market.
De’rayo Vocational Limited has become a household name of some sort, how did you start?
I took up acquiring vocational skills in the year 2007, when I saw that the demand for Afrocentric products is high and I need to contribute my quota to the development of Nigeria by using our indigenous fabrics and materials. I never stopped learning, as time went by during my journey, I began to identify the loopholes in the conventional skill acquisition system in this part of the world. Therefore, I decided to put a fix to it. Hence, the birth of De’rayo Vocational Limited. Since the government lacks the willpower to improve this sector of education.
Though you started small, today it seems you had a smooth ride from the start. What are the challenges you encountered while developing?
You see, the lack of updated education structure and inadequate link to economic development has been gravely affecting the output. Human resources are also on the list of my challenges, there is a huge gap between what the youths learnt in school and what they can do practically. Power supply and running on electricity generators have also been taking a toll on us.
Ultimately, the general mindset of Nigerians towards skill acquisition and “Made in Nigeria” products needs to be re-engineered. I believe that better knowledge and a positive mindset will go a long way in contributing to our general development as a nation.
Can you give a little background on your childhood and adolescent life?
I grew up in a small family of four, I’m the younger of two sisters, my now retired mum was a civil servant, and my late dad worked for a private company.
I had my primary and secondary school education here in Ibadan. I now have a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial and Business Management from the National Open University (NOUN). I also studied Diploma in Marketing at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. I am fluent in the French Language and have DELF Certificate to show for it. I was privileged to be selected among the Top 50 women in business in Nigeria (WOMEN X 11) sponsored by the World Bank to study Entrepreneurial Management at Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Lagos Business School. Being nominated for excellence in fashion and style award gave me the courage to forge ahead.
My life experiences and urge for success have shaped me to be a creative person, fulfilling my potential in arts and entrepreneurship.
Today, you export your products abroad, how would you advise young ladies trying to start?
I’ll simply tell them to identify their purpose, never stop learning, they should start with whatever resources they have, no matter how limited, and position their businesses for global opportunities. It’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be worthwhile. There’ll be days where you’ll feel down and unmotivated, it’s normal because we’re humans. The most important thing is not to stay down, keep your heads up, push your limits and keep the ball rolling.
It is an open secret there are no white-collar jobs out there like in the past, how do you advise the government on vocational training?
Employers in white-collar industries mostly employ people not by their qualifications on paper, but by what they can do. I’m talking in terms of problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and their direct application. These skills are developed during vocational training/education.
I’ll advise that the government inculcate vocational training into the current school curriculum, return honour to vocational education by accrediting courses such as fashion and textile designing, woodwork/carpentry, welding and blacksmithing, Pottery and much more for institutions, and allow these educational institutions, create hierarchy, issue certificates of the same standards as we have now for the conventional courses. Doing this will ensure that holders of these certificates are no longer discriminated against and labelled as uneducated, they can practice and be accorded the same level of respect as white-collar workers. This will in turn improve the workforce, standard in the labour market, and subsequently, the economic development of the great nation in slumber.