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‘Entrepreneurship, Not White-Collar Job Is The Solution For Unemployment’




Abimbola Adewole, Chief Executive Officer of Prinaas Communications, promoters of The Job Show, a programme dedicated to job seekers airing on local and international television and radio stations, which claimed to have provided 1997 jobs for seekers, spoke to DANIEL ANAZIA on the success of the programme and unemployment in Nigeria.

What is The Job Show all about and how did you come about the idea?
The Job Show is a human resources (HR) programme on radio and television.

We also have the print platform where we publish testimonials of those who got jobs courtesy of the show.

The programme started on August 19, 2013 like a joke and comedy, but the moment we began to have testimonials from job seekers who got jobs through the programme, it dawn on us that it was serious programme. So far, we have been able to successfully help 1997 job seekers get jobs.

In a nutshell, the job show is a community service project that has metamorphosed into something bigger than us.

Let me say that I cannot take The Job Show away from the recognition for my better half, Omotola Adewole.

There was a night she told me that she needed to change her job and she was looking for a way to get a better job. She shared her thoughts with me and said I should get her a job. I searched, but there was no way to talk to other school owners to get a change of job for her.

That fateful night, I woke up around 4am and went into my library, opened up my system and I extracted 69 phone numbers of school owners to notepad and did SMS.

I wrote in the SMS: “Good morning. My name is Omotola Adewole. I am a graduate of Linguistics from the University of Lagos. I can teach English Language, Linguistics or Mathematics.

“In case you need my services, please kindly call on me.”

I put her mobile number and I sent that information to 69 school owners.

In the morning, it was on a Saturday, about 6.45pm, she got the first call asking her to come over for a quick job chat.

On Monday, I took her there and she went upstairs to meet the owner of the school and about an hour and half later, she came down and said: ‘Bimbo, you know what, I got a new job!’

Immediately she said that, I got into action. I was thinking, okay, if this can work for my wife, then obviously, it should be able to work for job seekers.

That was how The Job Show started. The moment we did that, I put my documents together and I sent it to City FM, 105.1 in Lagos.

They called for a meeting that lasted for 18 minutes, where I met like minds, such as Oscar Oyinsan, Head of Programmes, Nnamdi Obanya, Business Development Manager, and Head of Marketing, Jombo, who accepted that we could create more job opportunities for Nigerians.

They people took that idea and immediately it became something that we are all smiling about till date.

Also, the success story of the show so far will be incomplete without a mention of good and kind hearted people who bought into the vision immediately it was relayed to them and have one way or the other added value to my life. Some supported with cash and some with requisite expertise and guidance.

As a human resource expert, what is your assessment of the Nigerian job market, particularly the skills gap and what are some of the factors that militate against job seekers from getting there dream jobs?

There are a thousand and one reasons why job seekers don’t get their desired jobs and some of these, employers of labour have identified to include interpersonal skill, communication skill, IT skill, critical thinking skill, leadership and negotiation skills, etc.

These are skills that are very rare to get in an average Nigerian prospective employee, but I have a different perspective to this.

It is acceptable for a job seeker not to have some certain skills, but it is pertinent that the employers should set apart some budgets that could help transform the prospective employee to a better person through proper training as such employee would utilise the skills acquired for the benefit of the organisation.

Also, I want to believe and state that the reason why job seekers are not getting jobs is that there are no good environments for thinkers or employer of labour. I tell you this; if we have a structure where young entrepreneurs can work into a bank and get loans easily to start their business, it will help kill the monster called unemployment in economy.

In research, I discovered that when this is done, one of such entrepreneurs would be able to absorb two people as employees. When you do a mathematical analysis of this, you discover that 1, 000 of such entrepreneurs will tactically generate 2, 000 jobs.

Thus, they will have successfully helped to reduce the unemployment rate in the country and the over dependence on government for job creation.

Therefore, if we replicate this idea in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other cities, the rate of unemployment in the country would be drastically reduced, if not stamped out.

So, government should strengthen access to funds for entrepreneurship and how people can think of starting a business, rather than say the Nigerian graduates are not employable.

Again, let me say that unemployment can be totally eradicated in Nigeria with adequate empowerment of the entrepreneurs.

In terms of skills gap and opportunities, I must say that these are two different things. There is a big vacuum and I must say we have not really gotten the solution right. The skills are there, but there is nobody to tap into them.

During one of our shows, I had a HR Advisor from Canada that said we can afford to release millions of graduate every year out to the labour market, but the moment we are disconnecting with skills acquisition, the millions of graduates that will still be coming out of the universities system will never get a job.

She also noted that the opportunities are endless. If you look, you find opportunities everywhere. The moment you walk into an average office in Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt, you can find a vacuum there of what you need to do.

If you walk into a firm, you see a minimum of 10 or 15 cars, what comes to your mind is you can make money by just washing and watching those cars every day. The problem is that Nigerian graduates are not thinking; we are not there yet.

My suggestion or solution is that if you get your degree, get a skill, work and develop on that skill, and move with the trend.
A lot of Nigerian graduates place more emphasis on white-collar job, considering the ratio of fresh graduates entering the labour market. What should be the emphasis?

There is no solution to unemployment; what can work is for us to have more entrepreneurs. The white-collar job is fantastic, it is nice to dress up in the morning in tie and move to an office and sit comfortably within the four walls of a corporate environment.

But I tell you, it does more good when you are your own boss. I always say on The Job Show that every job is always a part-time. What that means is that there is no job you do as an employee that a time will come for you to walk away, and if you don’t walk away from the job, the job will definitely walk away from you.

White-collar job is not the solution; the solution to unemployment is to empower peoples’ mindset that entrepreneurship is the solution to joblessness. We must embrace full-fledged entrepreneurial process; you must empower people.

Look at China, Singapore and Malaysia, for instance. A Chinese man can walk into the Chinese Commission in China and decide to invest in Tanzania. There is a provision from the Chinese government to give a minimum of $100, 000 interest-free loans to a Chinese man that wants to invest in a particular economy.

As a matter of fact, the interest is negative; it is entering into negative and that is the solution. That is the way to go, if we need to kill unemployment to a reasonable level in Nigeria.
Labour in this part of the world remains poorly priced, as we have graduates, even with Masters degree earning as low as N50, 000 per month, even in banks and manufacturing industries. What is your take on this? 

First, you have to consider what is the minimum wage for this country? It is N18, 000. So, if we have N50, 000 being paid to graduates, that is fantastic.

But my point is that the federal government needs to re-assess the minimum wage. How do you give N50, 000 to a graduate who spent between four to seven years in the university, then served his fatherland for a year?

In this instance, the employers should not be blamed because it is what you have that you can give. It is what the economy gives to them that they give out to the employees.

I would rather prefer it to be a foundational amendment. Let the federal government amend the minimum wage and a suitable operating environment be put in place for employers.

Tell me, how do make profit without a steady power supply. How do you operate when you make 10 calls to 10 clients and your N5, 000 recharge call credit is exhausted?

I have been opportuned to travel to out this country and I know how much I recharged my phones with and how long I was on the phone talking to people internationally. How do you survive a harsh business environment where you exhaust your N1, 000 recharge cards on just one conversation?

So, I would rather want a foundational amendment of the minimum wage, and government policies should be one that encourages employers of labour, and economic facilities should be put in place, so that every manufacturer or service delivery employer can have a good playing ground to operate.

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