Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Irked by the increasing rate of unemployment in the country, the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu at the weekend in Enugu asked the federal and state governments to invest in vocational training and skill acquisition programmes in order to meaningfully engage the youths.
Speaking at the inauguration of a vocational training institute, Learn and Work European Vocational School in Enugu, Senator Ekweremadu said the unemployment rate had remained high because of the failure of government to come up with progressive and pragmatic strategies to resolving the challenge.
The European Vocational School is designed to train young people in different skills including web design, plumbing, tailoring/dress making and home nursing among others. The training is packaged to last for six months or 320 hours after which graduates are presented with graduation certificates. The institute, which has Ekweremadu as its promoter, is being managed by the CEPU Education Group, Italy.
Ekweremadu decried a situation where the nationâ€™s tertiary institutions graduate thousands of â€˜unemployable peopleâ€™ annually, noting that the vocational training school had been packaged to fill the yawning gap in the system.
â€œItâ€™s really unfortunate that we have engineers that canâ€™t construct anything; we have technicians that canâ€™t fix anything; we have plumbers who are just disasters,â€ he lamented.
He expressed optimism that the institution would in the next five years effectively address the problem of unemployment as those who pass through the school would not only be meaningfully engaged, but would also have their minds taken away from crimes and unnecessary agitations.
According to him, after six months, those who graduate from the institute would be encouraged to access soft loans from the Bank of Industry to set up their own businesses in order to become self-reliant and employers of labour.
â€œWe must come to terms with the fact that government alone cannot solve our problems. Civil and public services cannot provide jobs for the entire populace. We must invest in vocational training, otherwise in the next 50 years, the nation will be in a serious problem,â€ he said.
Earlier, the President of the Institute, Dr Francheto Politori identified education as a driving force that would assist nations in their development initiatives.
He disclosed that the vocational school was one of their packages for Nigeria, noting that they had plans to organise other types of professional courses and opening of schools starting from kindergarten to high school, and the universities.
Also speaking, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, declared the readiness of his administration to partner with the institute in order to help the teeming young people in the state.
The governor who was represented by the chairman of PDP, Enugu State, Chief Augustine Nnamani, pledged his readiness to provide the necessary incentives to ensure the realisation of the set objectives of the school.