Sterling Bank Plc in partnership with iCreate Africa, organisers of technical and vocational skills competition, recently held a skills competition for over 500 youths in the South-east.
A statement from the bank explained that the two-day event which held at Enugu, included competition for vocational and technical skills across categories such as cooking, website design, graphic design, art, leatherworks, garment making, make-up, plumbing, carpentry, tiling, among others.
At the end of the competition, the organisers disclosed that winners in each category would represent the south-eastern region at the finals in Lagos, where national skills champions would be selected to represent the country at the world skills competition later in the year.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, the Retail Business Manager of Sterling Bank, Enugu branch, Mr. Arinze Okeleke, described unemployment as one of the biggest economic challenges currently facing Nigeria, hence the desire and passion of the bank to sponsor youth empowerment programmes that would help to create wealth in the country.
He said: “In order to demonstrate our commitment to wealth creation, Sterling Bank has, over the years, invested in programmes that uplift startups as well as micro and small businesses which are the key drivers of growth in every economy. “In Enugu, for instance, we have trained more than 1,000 youths as a prerequisite for accessing single digit loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Our support for iCreate Africa’s skills festival is part of a deliberate effort to correct the wrong notion that the only way to make it in life is through white collar jobs.”
He added that the skills competition/festival was the bank’s way of tackling the increasing wave of unemployment by celebrating and promoting skill sets that include plumbing, tailoring, tiling, automobile engineering, catering, and hairdressing, among others.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of iCreate Africa, Mr. Bright Jaja, said the idea behind the project was to change the societal perception about vocational and technical skills.
He said if people can struggle to take ‘selfies’ with popular musicians, they should also be willing take ‘selfies’ with carpenters and other skilled workers who should embrace technology and new ways to add value to their work.”