BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI, ILORIN
Surely ,The problem of youth unemployment in Kwara State is one the administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is said to have effectively tackled since its inception.
Between 2003 and 2011, the tenure period of the immediate past administration of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, much was achieved within the framework of youth development in the state, which was partly the basis for the creation, in 2003 of a separate Ministry for Sports and Youth Development.
Subsequently, under the present administration of continuity, Governor Ahmed has taken it upon himself to give youth development priority attention. This, government officials say, is based on the fact that the youth constitute 70 per cent of the population in Kwara State.
It was this consideration that gave birth to the Kwara Bridge Empowerment Scheme,KWABES.
The KWABES, according to Governor Ahmed, was created to capture and analyse data on employable youths, facilitate the emergence of a new corps of entrepreneurs through training, provision of soft loans and other support, liaising with the public and private sector to provide places for corps members, support all initiatives from both local and public bodies aimed at generating employment for youths.
Under the scheme, the state government has directed graduate and non-graduate unemployed [ages between 18,and 35] to be registered for employment on continuous basis irrespective of states of origin, religion, ethnicity, political belief and family status.
He also expressed his resolve to ensure that what is essentially a social problem now does not escalate into a security issue.
“Besides, our youth represent our most important resource, we must, therefore, provide opportunities for them to activate their latent potential through necessary support structures such as jobs and entrepreneurial support. Thus, every policy would be designed to dovetail into the youth employment generation programme. We must make a deliberate effort to manage the youth; that is why we have set up a Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development which would cater for skill acquisition and entrepreneurial education,” the Governor stressed.
The target of the present administration was to employ 2000 of the unemployed youths who have registered across the 16 local governments in the state, while subsequent employment would be sourced from the data base.
It is also a calculation that by the first 365 days of the present administration in office, it is hoped that about 80 per cent of the KWABES corps will enjoy permanent and pensionable employment.
The hydra-headed problem of youth unemployment made its presence felt within two weeks of the commencement of the registration as well over 50,000 registered for jobs. The figure continues to rise alarmingly.
While presenting appointment letters to the first set of 2000 jobs issued within 10 days as pledged, the Governor promised to provide more jobs before the end of the year.
It should be noted that of the 2000 that were employed, 800 of them were posted to the public service, 600 to schools as teachers, 500 to the private sector and 100 to sundry MDAs.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed said: “In the next phase of the scheme, my administration intends to create a new generation of youth entrepreneurs in Kwara State through the provision of relevant business skills, soft loans and other institutional support”.
For those applicants yet to secure employment under the scheme, the governor noted that KWABES is an on-going program that will continuously collect data on the youths and facilitate their access to jobs adding that the aim of the government is to source all candidates for future recruitment into the state civil service from the KWABES database.
As a complement to KWABES, Governor Ahmed said his administration plans to promote the acquisition of market-relevant skills through our human capital development program.
This program, he said is designed to bridge the gap between skill acquisition and application through the provision of basic skills, enhanced technical education and internationally-recognised training for our youths.