By Michael Oche
The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in its renewed commitment to the fight against mass unemployment in Nigeria has continued to design and implement programmes and schemes aimed at reducing to tolerable levels, the challenge of mass unemployment in the country.
Recently, the Directorate under its Vocational Skills Development (VSD) programme concluded the training and empowerment of a total 13,308 unemployed Nigerians. Out of this number, 9,360 persons were trained in the Basic National Open Apprenticeship (B–NOAS) scheme.
Another 2,050 young Nigerians also benefitted under the Community Based Training Scheme, and another 1,050 were exposed to various skills under the School–To–Work Scheme, a new initiative designed to engage students of junior and senior secondary schools on quick win vocational skills with high income potentials while on long vacation.
According to the deputy director, information and public relation, Edmund Onwuliri, the aim is to prevent the students from being lured into various anti-social behaviours and to encourage them to be involved in productive ventures while on holidays. The pilot phase of the School-To-Work Scheme was implemented in Bauchi, Katsina, Anambra, Cross River, Imo, Kogi and Ondo states. Equally, a total of 418 graduated trainees were recently resettled under the Artisan Resettlement and Mentoring Scheme (ARMS) scheme while another 430 trained persons were given starter-packs to practice Welding, Carpentry, Catering, Shoe making and leather works.
Over the years in Nigeria, statistics have shown that the success rate in WAEC and NECO Senior Secondary Examinations is at an average of 31%. This implies that over one million youths have to re-write their SSCE yearly if they have to progress academically. To this end, The Directorate designed a special programme named Graduate Coaching Scheme (GCS) with the objective of making provision of transient jobs for unemployed university graduates to assist deficient candidates improve their grades. Over 445 hitherto unemployed graduates were employed for the purpose while another 35 graduates were offered jobs as supervisors in 2017. The resultant effect of this is that over 70 per cent of the students who benefited indirectly passed their examinations in flying colours.
Graduate Attachment Programme (GAP) is another scheme which promotes mass employment of graduates of tertiary institutions through attachment of the beneficiaries to willing employers of labour for skills upgrading within a given period of time. Under the arrangement, the graduate attaché is expected to use the period to gain needed practical experience and perhaps establish his/her usefulness to the organization while the Directorate pays them stipends. A total of 1,685 university graduates are currently benefiting nationwide at the rate of 45 graduates per participating state.
The newly appointed Director-General, Dr. Nasir Ladan Mohammed, has injected a measure of freshness into the organization with the introduction of two new employment creation schemes. The Director-General stated recently that the Directorate has concluded plans in collaboration with operators in the ‘’Keep Abuja Clean’’ initiative to improve employment and service delivery in the sanitation sector. According to him, the NDE is developing strategies towards ensuring safety and maintenance of good health standards in the work environment for all refuse collectors in the FCT in the first instance. The NDE he added will provide 400 pieces of hand gloves, face masks and waterproof plastic bags for the workers in place of the common bags which expose them to health dangers while at work.
Similarly, the NDE in conjunction with major construction companies is organizing construction artisans popularly referred to as roadside labourers into cooperative groups with a view to getting them meaningfully engaged by the construction giants in major cities across the country. This will afford them of the opportunity to upgrade their skills and bring honour to their trade and businesses.
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