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Labour minister unfolds plan to tackle unemployment

By Funmi Komolafe & Henry Umoru
There are indications that the federal government has mapped out a programme to create more jobs in the informal sector anytime from now. Labour minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure has  spoken of government’s determination to tackle youth employment .  His immediate predecessor, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode also spoke of the government initiative which is now the lot of Alhaji Kazaure to implement as minister of labour.

Nigeria was one of the nations that adopted the International Labour Organization’s Global Jobs Pact .  Also the federal ministry of labour working with other stakeholders developed the “ National Employment Action Plan” which has the support of the ILO within the framework of the Global Jobs Pact.

All things being equal, the programme is expected to be implemented as part  of the  2010 budget.

Labour minister, Alhaji Kazaure barely two weeks in office    expressed concern about   avoidable damage vehicles in Nigeria  are subjected to in the name of repairs from ill-trained and ill equiped mechanics. He disclosed that the federal government has launched  a curriculum for automative mechanithronic apprenticeship programme for the informal sector.

This he said was part of government’s plan to address  unemployment within the next six months.

Speaking  at the launch of Federal Trade Test 111, 11 and 1 Curriculum for Automotive Mechatronics Apprenticeship Proramme, Training and Certification  organized by  the National Automotive Council (NAC) and the Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity, in Abuja,  Kazuare said part of the ways to achieve this by the government is by updating the knowledge of all mechanics  through apprenticeship training and certification.

According to him, “I’m assuring you that within the next  six months all mechanics both in the formal and informal sectors will be formally trained through the curriculum being developed for Automotive Mechatronics  Apprenticeship Programme.”

The Minister said  all  materials needed for the training are  already in place, adding  that  the curriculum which was put together by the National Automotive Council in collaboration with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and other auto stakeholders  experts would replace the old version  used for training of Automobile craftsmen and technicians for certification as Trade Test 111, 11 and 1 and will be administered  by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

“The training of our mechanics to meet this changing technology in the automobile industry has remained static, creating skill gap. He expressed optimism that the  curriculum for mechanics in the informal sector which was  launched will bring about great transformation and enhance productivity in the auto Industry in Nigeria.

The curriculum according to him will lead to the Award of the Federal Labour Test Grades  111, 11 and 1 Certificates of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity. He pointed out that training will go a long way to offer employment to the teeming youths in the auto industry especially in the servicing and maintenance of new generation vehicles.

“Iam delighted that the curriculum will promote employability of Nigerian mechanics that hitherto are on their way out of job for lack of competence in modern skills needed to repair modern vehicular fleet in Nigeria”. According to him, as part of moves to achieve this, the Ministry has put in place the National Electronic Labour Exchange (NELEX), an electronic  forum that enables job seekers and employers of labour to  meet online, adding that the strategy was designed to be a one stop shop that provides advance, comprehensive and integrated technology that allows job seekers, employers and other stakeholders’ access to employment services and labour market information.

In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the President on informal Sector, Ebuta Ayuk  commended the labour ministry  for its initiatives in ensuring self reliance and motivation for the youths and noted that it would lead to drastic reduction of unemployment, adding that indviduals are  most employable when they acquire  broad education and skill training.

“We therefore seek to strengthen existing policies of government in the informal sector by evolving new policies to capture and cope with the rapidly expanding informal sector; identify the capacity building of the sector and develop strategies for meeting the needs of society. We seek to develop the private sector to utilise the informal sector as an incubator for nominal technological growth. Also in his remarks, the Director General, National Automotive Council NAC Engineer Aminu Jalal who said that the training of mechanics in Nigeria has not kept pace with developments in the automotive industry, therefore,  “Our mechanics therefore can not repair many of the vehicles plying our roads”.

Shortly before his reassignment, former labour minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode now attorney general said, the ministry of labour had done its best to persuade the government to see the 2010 budget as “ budget of employment”.

He said, “We hope that we would get additional funding from the ILO within the framework of their own approval.  We are persuading government to take this budget of 2010 as the budget of employment. We must move budget out of economics to the workplace.  We must move budget from the office of the director of budget into the streets to the people who must feel the impact of government.

If they don’t feel it, we are in trouble.  As far as I am concerned this budget of 2010 must take employment as the most cardinal and the most important issue. It must be a budget for the people not in the way we have been doing it in the past.

It must be budget that put people to work, that puts money in their pocket and put food in their mouth. Of course, they too must be ready to work, so,   I’m very clear about this but I am not saying that the budget must be implemented only by the ministry of labour.  Our work here is … .  We work in a multi sectoral manner in a way  to implement our mandate and everybody, every agenc
y of government, every ministry of government has a stake”.

Already the National Employment Action Plan has been presented to the minister of finance, Alhaji Mansur Muhtar and its implementation would be coordinated by labour minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure.

ICT to generate  a million jobs – In this sector, the ministry of labour in partnership with the federal ministry of information and communication and the National Communication Commission ( NCC) are expected to create  500,000 jobs per year in the 774 local governments per year.   In the cultural industry sector, Adetokunbo Kayode said, the ministry of labour will work with   “agencies of the federal ministry of culture and tourism and the ministry itself “.

In the area of agriculure, the target is to create a million jobs which the former labour minister said, “ That is already on going “. He said job creation in the agricultural sector has not posed any major challenge as the ministry of agriculuture has and the National Food Reserve Agency have been working with the ministry of labour. .

PublicWorks – Prince Adetokunbo Kayode gave details of how government intends to create jobs in this area.

In his words, “  We are looking towards training people for skills.  Vital skills in masonry, carpentry, welding, electrical, POP, aluminum fabrication, plumbing, painting etc There is no institution in Nigeria where people are trained for these things .

You know it. If you want to do POP, you go to Ghana or to Benin Republic .  That is the truth. We must put an end to that immediately. We have people who can   be trained for these and we would do it.  When I was invited by the minister of labour in Turkey, we visited some of their skills training centres and all we need to do is to just adopt it.  They even offered to help us to develop our own prototype for this kind of thing.

Now, if we can put people to training on these, a lot of people will go to work because we import labour for these.  If we can train excess, we can also start exporting labour.   Even with the ministry of health.  Look at it today, one of the most lucrative jobs you can get abroad is nursing.  .  Why don’t we create massive institu
tions for the training of nurses for our hospitals.?  Then they can fill the gap here and the excess is exported.


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