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Expert counsels governments on economic framework for vocational entrepreneurs

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Executive Secretary, Millennium Village Vocational Centre, Lagos, Dr. Olusegun Omisore has urged governments at all levels to develop an economic framework for vocational entrepreneurs as a way of fast-tracking economic development in the country.

Omisore, who noted that the strides of vocational entrepreneurs in breaking barriers and building small businesses were key, stressed the need for governments at the local level to buy into growing trends in digitalisation and data capture in two folds.

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He said: “This includes a partnership with vocational centres in their locality with a desire to have a graduating list of students with potentials. Secondly, it would ensure that business and entrepreneurial skills are taught with a particular focus on money and inter-people management courses.

“Third, is the setup of a financial-economic framework for the target audience as critical players in the technical and creative dynamics of service delivery in various forms with daily effect on the financial spending of Nigerians.”

He said a crop of young men and women have earned big names in various fields, including fashion designing, garment fabrication, makeup and beauty therapy, brick construction, shoe designing, baking and pastries, food and catering services, event planning, and phone and computer engineering, among others.

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Omisore drew a line of distinction between vocational businesses (entrepreneurs) and small and medium scale businesses (entrepreneurs), urging governments to distinguish between the different levels of small-scale businesses.

He said: “Two-thirds of graduates of most vocational centres start as solo businesses before the thought of employing at most three to seven people, depending on the type of vocation. Interestingly, multiple taxations applies to both sides of the divide. Like small-scale businesses, vocational entrepreneurs also contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established.

“They also help to stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by SMEs and large organisations or corporations.”

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According to Omisore, most vocational entrepreneurs, with little support or economic framework from government, have engaged in the skill on skill learning/training of fresh apprentices who pay a certain amount to engage training on the job, experience on the training and subsequent graduation especially in areas where vocational educational centres are unavailable.

“It is not news that small scale businesses play a critical role in the annual generation of the nation’s GDP. In the United States of America, small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy that creates two-thirds of net new jobs and drive the US economy and competitiveness. A new report shows that they account for 44 percent of the US economic activity.

“Back home, with Lagos as a case study due to its smart city projections central in its THEMES pillar plans that are actually evident today, it needs to be more pro-active in the dynamics of the grassroots and more importantly, Vocational Entrepreneurs. The beauty of Lagos and every other state is that they need not totally focus on these set of people as cash cows but invest in them and watch them grow into what will add enormous value to the pool,” Omisore said.

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He added that while a major question would be why create a framework for unskilled labour, unqualified professionals and the last dip in the business cum employment chain, with the daily numbers of youth unemployment, a local government framework with the House of Assembly accent for a Micro Vocational Entrepreneurship package or a review of the SME Act to cater for this target is doable.

“This package would be linked from the fund to Micro-finance organisations but interfaced with government at the local levels in two phases. These phases will have a centre-government partnership for suitable candidates who would be eligible for this facility.

“The other phase is centred on the CDA to the CDC in each local government where suitable candidates can access this facility with the CDA/CDC’s playing a robust role on behalf of the government,” he said.

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