By Prince Osuagwu
The Federal Government has not been more serious on its creation of job promise than last week in Lagos, when in collaboration with the Outsourcing Initiative of Nigeria, ODIN, it linked about 1,007 unemployed graduates to prospective employers.
The feat was in partly executing the six years unemployment reduction facility loan of $180m which the World Bank granted the federal government. The six years loan, however, runs out July next year.
Following a discovery that most graduates lack relevant skills which hinder their direct employment, the World Bank came up with New Economic Skills Programme for Africa (NESPA) which the Nigerian government has keyed into, to get graduates of tertiary institutions trained in information and communications technology (ICT) and job related skills necessary to gain employment into the private sector.
To execute the initiative, federal government created the Science and Technology Educations Post-Basic, Step-B, Project under the Federal Ministry of Education. STEP-B is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the Ministry of Communications Technology and private sector companies, including Outsourcing Development Initiative of Nigeria, ODIN.
The aim is to train unemployed graduates with skills and connect them with employers. Candidates are tested on various skills such as grammar, team work, organizational and administrative skills that people need in the workplace.
Last week, Step B, World Bank and ODIN organised a fair tagged Access Nigeria Job Fair in Lagos and at the end of the day, no fewer than1007 graduate job seekers were matched with prospective employers in various sectors of the economy ranging from aviation, manufacturing, banking, telecommunications and information technology, oil and gas, education, engineering sectors, among others.
Explaining the model of the fair, National Coordinator of Step B, Ministry of Education, Professor Michael Adikwu said the job seekers were subjected to about 10 weeks of training. “We got a sample of about 3000 job seekers including those doing NYSC. Eventually 1007 turned up for the training because others have gotten employment or have started things on their own. What we are doing here is to ascertain how effective that training was and that can only be done if they are employed”
Meanwhile, Chairman, ODIN, Mr. David Oni, said that the initiative, was a way taking more practical steps towards ensuring job creation which has been on the top of government agenda in the last two years or more.
According to him, “We felt that to realise it would mean that the private sector gets deeply involved. That is why we partnered with the government. We don’t want to leave the issue of job creation to government alone. The public and private sectors must always come together to create jobs. Both sides must learn to support each other in so many ways” he added.
That is also as Senior education specialist, World Bank, Mr. Tunde Adekola, stated that “this is part of the efforts of the bank to support government to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The credit facility granted FG is $180m over six years. The project is ending next year. It is for four years and additional two year extension. Hopefully by June 2013 the project will end.”