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Job creation: FG in the right direction – Experts

One of the negative consequences of the global economic crisis is the worsening unemployment rate across the world. According to the World Bank, unemployment refers to the share of the labour force that is without work but available for and seeking employment.

Latest statistics from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), shows that after three years of continuous crisis conditions in the global labour markets and against the prospect of a further deterioration of economic activities across the world, there is currently a backlog of global unemployment of 200 million people – an increase of 27 million people since the economic crisis began about three years ago.

In its report titled, “Global Employment Trend 2012”, released last month, the ILO stated that nearly 75 million young people around the world are without jobs, an increase of more than four million since 2007. Specifically, the report said, “In 2011, 74.8 million youth aged 15–24 were unemployed, an increase of more than four million since 2007. The global youth unemployment rate, at 12.7 per cent, remains a full percentage point higher than the pre-crisis level. Globally, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.

In addition, an estimated 6.4 million young people have given up hope of finding a job and have dropped out of the labour market altogether.”

In the European Union, where a debt crisis followed the financial crisis, the ILO noted that youth unemployment rate shot to 18 per cent last year from 12.5 per cent in 2007. Similarly, in North Africa, youth unemployment rose to 27.9 per cent in 2011 from 23.1 per cent in 2010 as a result of the Arab Spring, while in Spain, youth unemployment increased to 46.4 per cent in 2011 from 18.2 per cent in 2007.

Even the United States of America and France are not spared from the ravaging effects of unemployment as their current unemployment rates hover around eight per cent and 10 per cent respectively. In the same vein, countries like Greece, Spain and South Africa are currently experiencing 50 per cent youth unemployment rate.

Back home, experts have warned that Nigeria is not immune from the global unemployment scourge going by the recent unemployment figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics, in which it raised the alarm over the worsening incidence of poverty and unemployment across Nigeria despite the country’s abundant human and natural resources. According to the NBS, the incidence of poverty in the Nigeria has deteriorated within the last eight years.

“In 2004, Nigeria’s relative poverty measurement stood at 54.4 per cent but increased to 69 per cent or 112.518 million Nigerians in 2010. Using the absolute poverty measure, 54.7 per cent of Nigerians were living in poverty in 2004 but this increased to 60.9 per cent or 99.284 million Nigerians in 2010,” the NBS said. Similarly, the number of unemployed Nigerians, according to NBS, has risen astronomically from 12.3 per cent in 2006, to 23.9 per cent in 2011.

However, experts say that creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive is a sure-fire strategy that will create jobs and reduce the increasing rate of unemployment to the barest minimum. Speaking during the inauguration of the committee for the formulation of a new industrial policy framework that will drive the nation’s industrial revolution in Abuja, recently, the National President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Chief Kola Jamodu, stated that the revitalisation of the manufacturing sector was the panacea for tackling the nation’s unemployment problem, adding that the recent Industrial Revolution Plan embarked upon by the Ministry of Trade and Investment was a right step in the right direction.

He said, “The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has already inaugurated a committee comprising MAN and other stakeholders to review the nation’s industrial policy, which will drive the country’s industrial revolution. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time than now.

It is a right step in the right direction. Without a clear-cut policy on different sectors of the economy, it is difficult for you as a manufacturer to make long-term investment decisions. Therefore, the new industrial policy will go a long way in fast-tracking Nigeria’s march to industrialisation, create jobs and generate wealth for our country. We will do everything to support the initiative.”

Explaining the focus of the Industrial Revolution Plan during a two-day workshop on Enhancing the Productivity of Nigeria’s Industries, in Lagos, recently, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, pointed out that the Industrial Revolution Plan was based on areas where the country had comparative and competitive advantage, adding that the government had embarked on far-reaching reforms aimed at improving the business climate and making Nigeria the preferred investment hub in Africa and globally.

He said, “For us as a country, manufacturing is very important because it solves three critical problems: it solves the problem of GDP growth, unemployment and balance of payment. Also, manufacturing is critical to wealth creation. If we are going to move from a poor nation to a rich country, industrialisation holds the key because it has the potential for unlocking the wealth of our country.

“This is why we have kicked off an Industrial Revolution Plan for our country. If we are going to diversify our economy, then the industrial sector must play the leading role. If we are going to move from a poor nation to a big nation and create jobs for the large pool of unemployed, we must have a strong and vibrant industrial sector.”

According to some Parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Aganga has, in the past one year, made it clear that job creation was top priority for him, thereby putting them on their toes as regards winning strategies.

Apart from the job creation figures that were quoted recently, industry experts say that the backward integration policy in the cement industry has not only helped the country to save about $1.5billion (N232billion) yearly, but has also helped to create over two million direct and indirect jobs since the introduction of the policy.

Our correspondent confirmed that the one-year job creation figures, which the minister quoted recently were collated from the one-year achievements submitted by the various Parastatals under the Ministry of Trade and Investment, copies of which our correspondent obtained.

Speaking on the efforts made so far by some agencies and parastatals under the Ministry of Trade and Investment to create jobs, the Director-General, SMEDAN, Alhaji Umar Nadada, said, “Small and Medium Enterprises are the drivers of economic growth and job creation.

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a National database of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises was created within the last one year in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics . And through the implementation of our Entrepreneurship Development Programme, a total of 10,374 existing and prospective MSMEs benefitted from SMEDAN’s various programmes in the last one year. It is estimated that SMES will employ three workers each, a total of 31,122 jobs.”

He added,” With the One Local Government One Product initiative, we were able to develop three industrial clusters and three products in each of the pilot states. The products are rice, leather and groundnut oil for Kano State and yam, Shea butter for Niger State. Once the programme is launched, it will create 332, 400 jobs and support 68,800 MSMEs.”

In an interview with our correspondent, the National President, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists , Chief Chuku Nwachukwu, said the number of jobs being created through the initiatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment under Aganga, was a phenomenal feat given the situation before he assumed office.

He stressed that the SME funding initiatives of the ministry and its partnership with NASSI had resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between NASSI and First Bank Nigeria Plc, for the provision of loans to small-scale industrialists at a single digit interest rate, adding that the initiative would help many businesses to expand their operations and create additional jobs to reduce the nation’s growing unemployment rate.

Nwachuku said, “Nigeria needs to create not less than five million jobs yearly to meet the employment needs of her growing population. So, the ministry’s job creation moves should be commended. Aganga is a thorough-bred technocrat who understands the problems we are facing in the sector. Within the last one year, he has demonstrated unusual passion and commitment in addressing some of the numerous problems facing the sector.”


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