Skills and work experience are very core to securing a job opportunity or starting up a business venture. This is apparently because they provide the competencies required in running a business or working in an already established one. CHRISTIAN APPOLOS, writes on how the NDE enhances employability skills of graduates through transient job opportunities.
Due to how important the issue of employability skills is to the world of work and decent work agenda, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has continued to harp on the need to take a concerted effort to enhance the employability skills of the youths. Interestingly, in Nigeria, the majority of graduates of higher institutions lack basic required employability skills, employers of labour seek, or the technical know-how to set up a business enterprise.
Apparently, the Federal government through its job provision agency, the National Directorate of Employment, designed a scheme; Graduate Attachment Program (GAP) as part of its concerted effort to scale up the deficit in the employability skills of Nigerian graduates as well as to tackle the humongous challenge of unemployment in the country.
Speaking to the NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, the Director General of NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, explains; “the scheme was designed to provide employment to unemployed graduates of tertiary institutions. The unemployed graduates are recruited and attached to willing cooperate organisations for a period of three to twelve months to gain the needed practical ability and experience that would facilitate their employability on or before the expiration of the internship period.”
Fikpo added that the core objectives of the scheme is to provide the graduate with what to do, to restore his/her psychological feeling and self-woth, distance the graduate from idleness and its consequences, salvage both character and leaning which are threatened by prolonged period of unemployment, provide an opportunity for the graduates to prove their worth for the establishment to absorb them.
Furthermore, the DG explained that employers of labour normally ask for prospective employees’ job experiences. Therefore, to mitigate the problematic requirement that has hindered many graduates from securing jobs, is the main reason behind the NDE’s establishment of GAP. According to him; “GAP is a transient job opportunity for Nigerian graduates to be gainfully employed temporarily for the purpose of acquiring the necessary and basic experience in the profession they have learned, so that they will be able to either be self employed or wage employed. ”
On how NDE the beneficiaries of the scheme are recruited. He said that beneficiaries are recruited through the Directorate’s State offices across the Federation. “We normally don’t advertise but we use the media. We talk to the media about our programmes. Many of the graduates who have benefited including those willing to benefit could get to know about our programmes from the media, visit our website or better still visit our State offices for inquiries on the possibilities of getting engaged.”
He went further to say; “The first entry point for those seeking employment opportunity in the NDE is the job centre. At the job centre, everything about the programmes and schemes NDE are made available to the prospective beneficiaries. When they indicate interest, we discuss and educate them and then determine the person’s area of interest and potential and then place the person appropriately.
“The job centre is an office in NDE, where you visit and be counseled and guided to be able to determine your potentials.
Also, Mallam Fikpo further explains; “Participants of GAP are deployed to both public and private organizations, and we have records that show how successful many of our beneficiaries became in the end. In fact we have written those agencies and organizations who at the end of the period of the attachment saw the commitment and productivity of many of the participants we attached to them and subsequently decided to absorbed them on a permanent bases. That is a success story for us.”
On financial implications of the GAP scheme, he said that NDE does not bite more than it can chew, adding that the agency cuts its coat according to its size. “The NDE’s funds depend on budgetary allocations by government. So whatever is made available to us, we use it to prioritize and distribute to all the States of the Federation, including the FCT. What we normally pay them is a token of 20,000 naira per month. For the first cycle of three months. However based on performance, the cycle can be repeated for another period of three months. So, it adds to a maximum of six months.
Asked whether NDE is overwhelmed by the number applicants interested on participating in the scheme, he responded; “That’s why we’re careful not to go on to advertise because we could get a number that may be difficult to handle. Just as what happened in the past when an agency or department of government advertised and wanted to recruit. We saw the hazards that took place. So we try to avoid that. But there are many, many prospective graduates who would want to partake in some of our schemes. However, we can not expend more than we hav. Thatt is the only restriction as far as this particular project is concerned. “
The Director General also talked about the collaborations with organization; both public, private, philanthropists, and the need for more organizations and philanthropists to collaborate with NDE.
His words; “Because we we are constrained by the availability of funds, we have established a window of collaborations. So far, we have been able to collaborate with some international partners; some national, private, and even philanthropists in Nigeria.
“Collaborators come to you with what they want. They usually have an area of interest, mostly skills acquisition. And for philanthropists, they define the category of unemployed people they want, and there are certain skills that are peculiar to certain areas. So, mostly, what we do is defined. Like the most recent one we did with a philanthropist, he was particular about the orphans. So we did skills acquisition training for the orphans, they graduated and he empowered them.
“So we urged organizations, philanthropists, businessmen and and the well to do to extend their hands and collaborate with NDE. We do not say give us the funds. Just define what you want and how you want to fund, and we are willing and prepared to translate wishes into employment opportunities for youth and women; graduates and non-gradutes.”
The DG went on to say there is a truth that must be told in the efforts to provide job opportunities and engage Nigeria’s teeming unemployed persons into meaningful employment activities.
In his words; “Certificate alone cannot pay for bills and feeding anymore. What does is the skill you have acquired. So irrespective of where you have been to and the qualification you have acquired, it is important to learn a skill. The basic requirement is your interest, hands, and commitment.
“White collar jobs are no longer available, and the few that there are cannot serve everyone. For us in Nigeria and for a very long time, the major employer of labour is the government. With the economic crunch that affects countries globally, the government alone can not provide the needed wage employment. And therefore has created alternative opportunities, and that is why the government is asking people to take advantage of the opportunities to acquire skills and be self reliant“