Improving Employability Skills

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Employability skills required for graduates and unemployed youths to upscale and compete in the marketplace, writes Ugo Aliogo

As the unemployment in Nigeria continues to rise, universities, polytechnics and colleges of education have also continued to churn out graduates with little or no hope of securing jobs, owing to low employability skills.

Employability skill is essential, beside technical knowledge which a graduate or unemployed individuals need, in order to compete for employment and sustain job in the market.

According to the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, the labour market in Nigeria is characterised by a significant mismatch between skills demanded by employers and those possessed by these young prospective workers, which has led to an increase in youth unemployment rates.

The study also noted that graduates of tertiary institutions remain unemployed for up to five years after graduation, partly because they lack market-relevant skills, and also because job creation has not kept up with the increase in the young adult population.

It explained that in most developing nations, especially Nigeria, there is a significant increase in youth unemployment rate over the past decade, with an average rate of 21.73 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had put the number of unemployed youths at six million or 33.1 per cent as of 2017; almost double the number in 2012 and representing the largest unemployed age group in Nigeria.

At the 2018 Career and Jobs Fair, organised by Gr8Jobsng, tagged: ‘Project Employ,’ the issue of employability skills was brought to the fore, with a focus on proffering solutions as to what graduates and unemployed youths should do to have market-relevant skills.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Gr8Jobsng, Omomene Odike, said though government was making efforts to address unemployment challenges in the country.

However, Odike said this was not enough because the statistics is not encouraging.

She also stated that as a private company, they are taking proactive steps to bring the employment and employability issue on the front burner in the society, adding that the event also provided a platform for not only teaching the job seekers the skills that are required to get a job, but also taking a step further to interview them for actual jobs.

Odike, further explained that they were hoping to get over a 1,000 job placements, noting that they have live jobs on their platform.

She added that the platform which was launched two years ago, has helped to address the issues of employment and placement and bring it to the front-burner for employers and job seekers.

She explained that the platform serviced the job seeker, the employer and the training institute and noted that the platform was online and it only implied that it is accessible 24 hours, to send information.

The Gr8Jobsng MD added that the platform also brings up life jobs which are actual jobs that are filled in, daily.
She said they had embarked on initiatives such as career fair, job fair, incubation programmes, and developed the Learning Management System (LMS) which is attached to the platform; “and of course, the LMS system has the employability skills training.”

“So even if you didn’t attend today’s training, you can go online, go through those courses; they are about 40 of them, you can take five to six courses, depending on how fast you are; you can take more courses.

“Then you find out that you can actually learn employability skills online for little or nothing and we are hoping that people will take the advantage because we are hoping to put all our courses online and make it available.
“So if you are in Kano and outside the country, you can go through the course online. The platform is accessible, and available.

“The issue with unemployment in Nigeria starts from governance, especially those at the leadership. If our economy is driven, it means that there are opportunities, more industries and more businesses, investors will be around to set up businesses here far more than we have.

“You may think that we have enough companies here, but we have nothing compared to the fact that we are a developing economy. In tackling unemployment, it starts from corporate governance.

“There are jobs, because the skills’ level of our school curriculum is really bad.
“In our academic institutions, we are still working with an archaic school curriculum, which is 20 years old. In the last 20 years, technology has transformed the way we do things, the jobs that were available 10 to 20 years are no longer available now.”

Continuing, she said: “A lot of things are going digital and our schools are teaching these students with old curriculum, therefore apart from the fact that they don’t have the employability skills, they don’t have the technical skills, required for these jobs. We need to bridge the gap in corporate governance, which means that they have to step up.

“The academic institutions and the National Universities Commission (NUC) need to step up their game. They need to put in place a new curriculum and input into it new information that meets with the demands of the marketplace. Also, the society has a part to play in addressing the unemployment challenges.

“The mind-set of young graduates has to be change, many of them believe that when they graduate from School, everyone owns them a job and they don’t have to struggle to make themselves better.

“Some of them also think that once they come out of school, they should be given a job that they earn N1 million.
“You have to start from somewhere and that mind-set has to be corrected from school and that is where employability skills and programmes can be incorporated into the school curriculum.

“For almost three years that we have launched this programme, we have been to a least eight different Universities, from University of Lagos to Federal University of Technology Owerri, (FUTO), University of Port Harcourt and others. We have been doing a lot of employability skills training, but the truth is that the approach is not sustainable because it is a cost for us to go to those locations. “Another factor is that the School themselves cannot independently take some decisions themselves because the NUC takes those decisions.
“Therefore until the NUC changes the curriculum and introduces most of those employability training skills to the University, things may not move forward.”

In her remarks, the Vice-President, Business Development, Sigma Pensions, Mabel George, noted that the concept of unemployment and pensions are intertwined, considering the recently released guideline by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) on micro-pensions.

She stated that the guideline provided the opportunity for people who are not in the organised private sector contribute to the pension scheme.

George stated that the micro-pension scheme would begin from January, 2019, saying all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that it happens seamless.

She added: “The micro-pension is going to start from January, 2019. All the necessary measures we have to put in place in order to ensure that it happens seamless are all going on.

“Everybody who is employable and who is an entrepreneur can now put aside monies, then save for their pensions such that people who are doing this, 20 to 30 years down the line, they will find out that they have saved so much money for, then they are retire and have a stipend or salary that will pay them for the rest of their lives.

“There are so many things that are not working in Nigeria, but if we say want to sit back and wait for the stars to align, we will not do anything.

“The key is to start no matter how small you start. I have met several people in the Yaba Hub, they are small businesses. So if you want to do any sort of business, you can go to those creation hubs.

“They are so many hubs that are incubating. They teach you what to do and you come with a business idea. Those are the people who give you the platform for getting loans, businesses, opportunities and investors.

“The issue is that some of our people just sit down and don’t take that step. But if we are attentive and see what is going on, we will begin to take that step. We have a lot of incubator hubs on the mainland and on the Island.
“People need to go to these places. We also have enablers such as the Bank of Industry (BOI) and other banks that are doing SME-enabled products, people should go and get these loans. They can access it.”