Growing Nasarawa through Entrepreneurship

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Given the paucity of white colour jobs in the labour market, the Nasarawa State government is training youths to acquire skills and grow the economy, reports Igbawase Ukumba

In a bid to ensure that youths in Nasarawa State were self-dependent in situations where they are no jobs after graduation from tertiary institutions, the Nasarawa State government in October, 2020 began an Employability/Entrepreneurship Training Programme for youths in the state.
The programme was anchored by the newly established Nasarawa State Human Capital Development Office in partnership with the private sector and other employers of labour.

Perhaps the emerging trends in the country had called for a new thinking towards engaging more youths in skills acquisition for economic development, hence the state government said it has concluded plans to establish a Graduate Training Academy to equip fresh graduates in the state with the 21st century skills to make them employable and employers.

Speaking during the launch of the second phase of the three-weeks Employability/Entrepreneurship Training Programme for youths of the state in October, 2021, Governor Abdullahi Sule maintained that youths of the state would continue to be given attention in all programmes of the state government as part of steps towards addressing restiveness and indolence among them.

Sule explained that white colour jobs were no longer available in the labour market, hence the need for youths in the state to acquire skills outside what they studied in their various fields of study while in school.

“It has been my dream to turn Nasarawa State to an entrepreneurship centre where our young and old citizens will learn various skills and innovations that will help to grow the economy of our dear state and Nigeria, because if you have skills, employers will look for you instead of you looking for them. I commend Poise Graduate Finishing Academy and Oxfam Nigeria for partnering the state government in training 100 youths on various skills, who were drawn from the 13 local government areas of the state.

“I want to commend Poise Graduate Finishing Academy and Oxfarm Nigeria for the partnership. Nasarawa State is among the few states in the country that was selected for this programme and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I call on the participants to be serious about the training, as my expectations at the end of the programme is for the participants to become masters in the skill that they have learnt,” the governor said.

During his visit to the venue of the Employability/Entrepreneurship Training Programme in Lafia, the Nasarawa State deputy governor, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe lauded the success of the training organised for the 100 youths when fielding question from journalists.

Akabe therefore maintained that the training had been a success given reports received and interactions with the participants, even as he lauded the organisers for the way they handled the training programme.

He said: “From my interactions with them, I think we are getting it right. From what I was told, there were about 100 participants who have been well trained on various skills. I was also informed that the participants are determined and committed to improving their knowledge and from my interactions with them, I am satisfied.”

Expressing confidence that the participants, after completing the training, will be able to start businesses of their own and be employers of labour, the Nasarawa deputy governor added: “As they are also been trained to be chief Executives of their own and it is an opportunity to link them up with some finance houses to see how the finance houses can assist develop the small projects they have.”

For the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Sule and Focal Person on Human Capital Development, Hajiya Habiba Balarebe-Suleiman, the training had been successful so far because the organisers had been able to impact on participants the 21st century skills aimed at making them employable and self reliant.

“I can comfortably say that we have had a total change and achieved a lot of our expected outcome. So yes, it’s been very intense because every day it’s been back to back full course training with theory and practical sessions. So it’s been quite an amazing experience for them based on the testimonies from them. Even in their attitudes, we noticed changes. So I can comfortably say that we are, like his excellency said earlier, going in the right direction.”

She then expressed confidence in the participants attracting employment and those interested in entrepreneurship been able to make it on their own based on the trainings they got.

“We had some courses that teach them etiquettes; how to write a curriculum vitae, how to write a business proposal and a whole lot of them. Basically, we are trying to give them the skills, the knowledge they need so that when eventually they gain employment or start businesses, they will be able to handle whatever they are doing seriously and be more productive in their lines of work,” she said.

Balarebe-Suleiman added by lauding the commitment and dedication of the Nasarawa State government to the training programme which she revealed enabled Oxfam Nigeria, funding partner of the programme, to agree to fund the programme for another three years.

Consequently, the Senior Special Assistant said Oxfam has given approval for the siting of a Bits Academy in Nasarawa State that will run Information Communication and Technology (ICT) specialties for unskilled youths of the state. She added that the academy was designed to run a year long ICT programme for 100 unskilled youth in ICT on various ICT specialties that includes but not limited to Information Technology, Soft Ware and Network Engineering, Multimedia Arts, Digital Illustrations and Animation, and Graphic Arts.

Acccording to the SSA, “It is worthy to note that Nigeria is one of the very few countries that have up to three Bits Academy sited. Nasarawa State due to the high level commitment and dedication it exhibited towards our partnership earned us a spot christened ‘NAS-BITS’ which is already approved by Governor Sule and will hopefully commence early next year.

“Another great programme in the pipeline for 2022 is the Technical Training for 200 youths in specialised Auto-Mechanical and Engineering courses in collaboration with Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN)”

She continued that the Employability and Entrepreneurship Programme was aimed at preparing Nasarawa youths to become fine executives in their own rights; in character and capacity.

“This collaboration between the Nasarawa State government and Oxfam Nigeria with Poise Graduate Finishing Academy is one that is essential and promises a lot in the future. You may recall that last year during the job fair, Oxfam announced its approval for an additional three years for the implementation of the Employability and Entrepreneurship Programme and Job Fair in Nasarawa State, the 3rd State in Nigeria to enjoy this privilege after Edo and Lagos States,” Habiba explained.

Nevertheless, it had been a great honour to one of the training firms, Poise Nigeria, to be in Nasarawa State. Hence it appreciated the effort and support the administration of Governor Sule had made and is still making that the youths in Nasarawa State were empowered with the right skills.

The Managing Director of Poise Nigeria, Mrs. Ebele Chukwujama, stated this during the flag off of the training programme, adding that the training was part of activities scheduled during the just-concluded Nasarawa State Fair flagged off by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, in collaboration with the state government, triggered by the increase in the unemployment rate currently at 27.1 per cent.

“The three weeks programme exposed the youths to 21st century employability skills, including Leadership training, Ethics, C.V writing, Goal setting, Communication skills, Business model canvas, and Business plan writing, among others. So far, the vision for the training and fair is to create a pool of skillful employers, entrepreneurs and job creators in the state.”

The Poise Nigeria MD, therefore, said it was bent on catering to that niche in order to reduce the rate of unemployment among the youth in Nasarawa State.

Speaking, one of the participants, Mr Sunusi Abdulsalam, lauded the state government for the training and said so far participants have been taught how to take opportunities, explore opportunities and manage the opportunities with the scarce resources available.

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It has been my dream to turn Nasarawa State to an entrepreneurship centre where our young and old citizens will learn various skills and innovations that will help to grow the economy of our dear state and Nigeria, because if you have skills, employers will look for you instead of you looking for them