Over the years, Nigeria has become known as home to millions of unemployed youths, with recent statistics pointing to a worsening situation. More recently, an observed failure in employability tests by some of the tertiary institution’s output has changed the narrative for a gloomy future. The youth population in Nigeria witnessed an exponential growth, making it the dominant age group in the country. Unfortunately, as the number grows, so does the unemployment rate. In the third quarter of 2017, 67.3 per cent of young people aged 15-24 years were recorded as being either underemployed or unemployed.
Ironically, employers of labour, on the other hand, have said it is almost impossible to get skilled manpower to put to work. Most times, employers are left with the inevitable option of hiring blue-collar workers from neighbouring countries such as Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana. While this may solve the immediate demand for the skills in the workplace, it does very little to alleviate the unemployment rate in the country. In fact, it has accelerated youth unemployment in the society.
The Lagos State Government had in 2015, established the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and it has been able to attract the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in developing an Employability Support Project. The support is aimed at training 10,000 unemployed youths as skilled blue-collar professionals, providing them with the skills they need to take advantage of employment opportunities available in the country.
Both organisations engaged Arc Skills Nigeria, a global training provider with footprints in seven countries across the world, to design a world-class curriculum that would empower youths with industry-relevant skills. The training firm mobilised a large network of competent and certified vocational training centres to provide hands-on field and classroom training sessions to thousands of Lagos residents. The trainees are equipped with skills that help create value in key sectors of the economy- manufacturing, construction, hospitality, healthcare, entertainment and garment-making.
Already, the LSETF Employability Support scheme has produced over 1,200 graduates, who are ready to be deployed in their chosen niche, while the vocational training programme has received both local and international accreditation, including endorsements from the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) and the Australian Vocational Training and Employment Group (AVTEG).
LSETF’s activities are not in obscurity, as it has created a robust online portal that provides relevant information about the trainees and their skill sets, so that employers can make very calculated, data-driven employment decisions. This portal is now live on www.lsesp.ng for employers to connect with certified trainees. This is, perhaps, an innovative answer to the twin challenges of rising unemployment and the widening skills gap among the youth population.
The Executive Secretary of LSETF, Akintunde Oyebode, said that what is even more plausible is the collaboration with some of the world’s most respected institutions, to design a curriculum that can stand the test of time anywhere in the world, to guide the capacity building process.
“And by creating a comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS) online, we have also made access to these trainees easier for individuals and organisations looking for the best hands to hire. I enjoin the public not to only use this tool to hire trained and certified manpower, but also to complement the work LSETF and UNDP are doing to fight the scourge of unemployment head long,” he said.
As expected of any proficient initiative, employers from leading organisations like Construction Kaizer, ITB Construction Company, Custodian Life Assurance, Iroko TV and Genesis Cinema, are currently off-taking the trainees for their employment needs.
The Chief Executive Officer, Arc Skills Nigeria, Amit Washington, said the LSETF Employability Support Project is the right answer to the unemployment dilemma and high demand for industry-relevant skills. Youth unemployment and dearth of employable skills have been a longstanding concern for the employing stakeholders in the country. It is a delicate problem because of the possible degeneration of social balance that could arise from the malaise. Beyond the Employability Support Project, LSETF also offers a bouquet of support initiatives to small businesses in Lagos State.
For the youth-dominated technology ecosystem in Lagos, the Fund designed and launched a programme known as the Lagos Innovate, to help the founders and start-ups facilitate access to hub loans, high quality work spaces and infrastructure, early stage investment capital, investor and peer networks.
The Fund also focus strongly on strengthening the capability of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by providing access to affordable finance to create a pipeline of successful entrepreneurs who would contribute to a stronger economic prosperity of Lagos State and create decent and sustainable employment for the youths.
The Fund goes further to provide periodic world-class business training for its beneficiaries on how to run an efficient business, as well as how to turn promising ventures to profitable enterprises.
In deploying these well-articulated programmes, the Fund is incrementally achieving its objectives of building a generation of skilled workmen and women, creating wealth for small businesses, enabling them expand their portfolio and offerings and eventually create jobs for the youths.
Source: Guardian