Bridging unemployment gap through skills acquisition strategy
The challenges thrown at the government with the near-disappearance of white-collar jobs amid growing unemployment, under-employment and the increasing number of graduates from tertiary institutions are mounting on a daily basis.
These concerns, coupled with dwindling foreign earnings occasioned by the low crude oil prices and the outbreak of coronavirus, have worsened the severe headaches of government.
Drawing inspiration from small-scale enterprises as creators of jobs and wealth, the Federal Government may have found inspiration in imparting practical skills in its youths graduating from higher institutions, women and under-employed persons.
The Federal Government believes skills acquisition will not only employ unemployed persons but also transform them into employers of labour on a sustainable basis.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, believes skill acquisition is the way to go in reducing massive unemployment rocking the country.
Speaking at the training of youths and unemployed in the South-East zone in various skills as an alternative to white-collar jobs, Ngige noted that skills education would equip them with self-employment and self-reliant skills that would serve them for life.
He further stated that the training would boost the socio-economic status of youths in the zone.
“This is one of the ways that the government wants to remove youths from poverty, and social discontent, and give them a new lease of life,” he stated.
Ngige explained that with the skills acquired, the beneficiaries would not only be self-employed but would also generate employment for others, as well as spread the knowledge by training others.
The Minister said that once the training, which is a nationwide skills development programme targeting the youth, has been done in all the zones, it would also be carried out in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He disclosed that the government was considering including skills education in the nation’s education curricula.
He noted that the acquisition of certain skills would boost the chances of Nigerians at jobs that other nationals were currently monopolising in the country.
Ngige stated that at the end of the training, the government would empower the participants with the necessary kits for the various skills they were trained in.
The Minister said the trainees would be graded by points and would progress from stage one to four.
He explained that the Trade Test Certificate 1 (one) qualifies the holder to work in other countries as skills would be exported by the Federal Government through regular channels.
He added: “This is the beginning. We will organise many more, and as we organise them, we will be giving you points and grading you through stages one to four, where you get your certificate.”
He further noted that the government would, in time, enlarge the current curriculum of the programme to other areas such as processing of agricultural produce, which would not only create food security but would also produce other consumables.
The Minister stressed that the skills acquisition training programme, which is specialised training, had been going on concurrently with the regular training by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
He encouraged beneficiaries to be serious with the training itself, which purpose is to make them self-reliant and self-employed.
Ngige noted that degree holders could also acquire the skills certificate in addition, as it would place them on a higher pedestal, adding that one could combine a white-collar job with a blue-collar one.
He also pointed out that skills certificate was edging paper certificate out of importance, saying, “this is a golden opportunity for you to add to the paper certificate you already have.”
In the same vein, the Federal Government has also extended the training programme to the South-South region of the country.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, who flagged off the programme in Warri, Delta State, stated that the training was part of the government’s commitment to providing solutions to youth unemployment nationwide, through the National Training Programme for Youths on Vocational Skills Acquisition/Emerging Trades.
He noted that the training is a nationwide programme aimed at promoting skill development targeting the youth.
Keyamo disclosed that the programme would train the youth of the South-South region in targeted trades, which are in line with the skill demands available in the region, to create employers out of them.
He added: “The programme is organised in batches to accommodate an expected large turnout of participants and to increase its coverage and impact in the region.”
According to him, the nationwide training would also provide relevant information, resources and incentives for the development of skills, entrepreneurship and enterprises necessary for national growth.
His words: “The intervention programme seeks to complement and boost the conventional skills development training available at our existing centres nationwide where individuals, corporate organisations, non-governmental organizations, government and private companies send their personnel to learn skills, most of whom are gainfully employed, while others are self-employed and some employers.”
The Minister noted that such training would not only equip the youths with skills to make a living, as well as create employment for others but would also lure them away from social vices and crimes.
Keyamo stated that the initiative resonated with the government’s commitment to ensuring youth inclusiveness in its plans and programmes.
He added: “Formal employment has proven to be insufficient, giving rise to an increase in informal employment, which is largely considered as the driving force of most developing countries’ economies. This, in clear terms, necessitates the need for schemes that will equip the youth with specialized skills to empower them for gainful employment both in the formal and informal markets.”
Keyamo emphasised the need for skill acquisition and upgrading, saying it is the bedrock for the social and economic development of any nation and would consequently lead to job creation and self-sustenance for the teeming youth.
On his part, the Director, Skills Development and Certification Department, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Amos Johnson, stated that the training would fill the skills gap and employer needs in the South-South zone.
He noted that the Ministry’s mandates include developing programmes to promote technical and vocational skills.
Director, South-South Zonal Headquarters, Ehigbai Iziren, noted that the Federal Government’s deliberate engagement of the youth in that zone, on quality training, skill acquisition and employment would effectively improve the growth and development of that region.
He commended the Federal Government for taking such a bold initiative to address the rising youth unemployment situation in that region.