Nigeria’s huge unemployment problem poses a big challenge for all the critical stakeholders. For employers of labour the dilemma of getting skilled talents that are aligned to firms’ productivity objectives remains a major hiccup.
Most times, local businesses have to turn to neighbouring countries such as Togo, Benin and Ghana for skilled artisans. This is common in the garment making, building/ construction and many other manufacturing sub-sectors. While this resolves the immediate demand for skills in the workplace, it does not help to reduce the alarming unemployment rate in the country. Experts see it as an unsustainable solution, with social problem that comes with youth unemployment eventually hurting the companies themselves.
To tackle this scourge, the Lagos State Government, which identifies employment as a critical focus area, established the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The LSETF has achieved one of its core mandates of employment creation, creating the Employability Support Project in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to train and improve the technical and vocation training outcomes in Lagos State.
Working with Arc Skills Nigeria, a leading global training provider with footprints in seven countries, the team designed a world-class curriculum to help equip youths with the right skills and training to have them ready and able to add value in key sectors of the economy: Manufacturing, construction, garment-making, hospitality, entertainment and healthcare.
The vocational training programme also has the endorsement of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) and the Australian Vocational Training and Employment Group (AVTEG).
Together with the large network of competent and internationally certified trainers, who provide hands-on as well as classroom training sessions for these youths, the Employability Support Project, which aims to train 10,000 Lagos residents, has already produced over 1200 graduates ready to be deployed in their chosen niche.
Speaking during the recent graduation ceremony for the first batch of trainees in Lagos, Akintunde Oyebode, executive secretary of LSETF, said, “Manpower skills gap remains a significant issue for businesses operating in the state and that is why we are committed to the successful implementation of this initiative. I enjoin corporate organisations to recruit from our growing database of certified professionals.”
Recently, the Dangote Group and its partner vendors interviewed about 350 graduate trainees in the construction and manufacturing sectors, with the aim of employing them. Other organisations and corporates who have shown confidence in the trainees include Construction Kaizer, Crown Nature Plc, Whispering Palms and Summit Chanrai Group, a resounding testament to the quality of the trainees and the project itself.
In her remarks, Ndidi Nnoli, group chief sustainability & governance, Dangote Industries, expressed satisfaction at the trainees’ level of readiness saying that her organisation would continue to create opportunities for skilled youths to contribute positively to Nigeria’s sustainable development.
“It is important for our youths to understand that developing skills, which meet the requirements and expectations of the job market, is critical and the smart thing to do. At Dangote, we are committed to constantly creating new employment opportunities for qualified and skilled youth, that exhibit the right attitude and character.”
To further leverage the successes achieved thus far, the team created a comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS). Through this web platform, individuals, institutions and businesses can access the robust database of certified manpower and request the services of trainees for short, medium and long-term employment. The LMIS platform provides detailed information about trainees in the 17 job roles covered by the project.
Amit Washington, chief executive officer, Arc Skills Nigeria, believes the LSETF Employability Support Project is the right answer to today’s high demand for industry-relevant skills and the quest to bridge the huge unemployment gap in the country.
“In today’s world of rapid changes, growth, progression, the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the youth’s ability to adapt to the environment, determines how successful their generation will be. Developing the right skills, which meets the demands of the job market, and the expectations of customers, is very important. We expect the successful trainees to put their skills to good use and contribute to the development of Lagos State,” Washington said.
As the LSETF expands its database of certified manpower, the LMIS is expected to become one of the most comprehensive and robust single platforms for trained, skilled and certified artisans and workmen/women in Nigeria. That is good news for the both employers and employees in the state.