According to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last March, unemployment rate in the country climbed to 10.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year (Q4 2015) compared to 9.9 per cent in the previous quarter.
It noted that a total of 22.45 million of the total labour force of 76.96 million were either unemployed or underemployed in Q4 compared to compared to 20.7 million in Q3 and 19.6 million in Q2. Such statistic is indeed worrisome for the President Muhammadu Buhari government which promised to create 3 million jobs annually.
With dwindling economic resources occasioned by the fall in oil price, and with many sectors of the economy competing for limited resources at the disposal of government, the challenge has been how can government make adequate funds available for its various job creation programme?
Encouragingly, the President Buhari-led administration has promised to invest hugely in the construction sector. However another challenge is how to train the required manpower to fill those vacancies. It is a known fact that though the building and construction industry has the potential to solve the problem of unemployment in the country, shortage of skills in this sector has sadly forced indigenous artisans to leave the scene for their foreign counterpart.
This leaves a huge burden on the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the agency saddled with the responsibility of training youths. The NDE was established in 1986 to combat mass unemployment among Nigerians, arising from the apparent inability of macro-economic policy measures to open up job opportunities.
The ultimate aim of the NDE’s training programme is to make the beneficiaries self-employed through the establishment of their own enterprises. However, these beneficiaries who are fresh graduates and school leavers, do not possess the needed security to enable them access funds from financial institutions.
Therefore, in order to demonstrate and at the same time check the effectiveness of the directorate’s training, a resettlement scheme has been instituted. This involves the provision of equipment and other materials to some of the trained unemployed persons to enable them establish and run business enterprises on pilot basis.
Over the years, poor funding has affected the agency’s resettlement. This has been blamed on the previous administrations many job creation intervention such as SURE-P, NAPEP, YouWin, among others.
However, the present administration’s quest to create more jobs and empower unemployed youths through various vocational skills acquisition program last week received a boost when the NDE began the training of its staff on grant sourcing.
In time past, skill acquisition is reserved for school dropouts and people who could not cope with academic work. But with the pivotal roles skill acquisition has played in the buoyancy of the economies of the Asian Tiger countries coupled with the modernization of training methods, skill acquisition is emerging a breeding ground for the creation of massive employment.
Since assuming office as Acting Director General of NDE, Kunle Obayan has always emphasized that government alone cannot carry the burden of unemployment, stressing that the NDE has put in place measures that will ensure active participation of private sector.
And in its attempt to overcome the challenge of inadequate funding in job creation, the NDE last week began training of its staff on how to secure grants and source for alternative funding.
Speaking while declaring the lecture opened, Mr Kunle Obanya, said the era of waiting for government’s subventions before unemployed youths could be empowered would soon be over with the new innovation being introduced.
He said, “In the face of this daunting challenge, the NDE management has resolved to think outside the box and to find alternative sources of funding job creation within the scope of the operations of the NDE.”
He said the efforts of the NDE is targeted at providing sustainable and decent employment opportunities for unemployed Nigerians.
According to him, a special unit has been created to give the idea effective implementation.
Obanya said, “at the workshop, experts will interact with participants, thereby providing them with the needed skills and information relevant to the sourcing of grants from donor agencies, foundations, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs etc within and outside Nigeria.”