By Franca Ofili
Brig.-General Shuaibu Ibrahim, the Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), says that more than 1.4 million have benefited from the scheme’s skills acquisition training since its commencement in year 2012.
Ibrahim said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) stakeholders meeting.
He said the aim of the meeting was to evaluate the progress so far in the programme implementation, adding that the introduction of SAED was the scheme’s way of contributing to youth empowerment to reduce unemployment.
Ibrahim said other achievements of the programme in the last seven years was the construction, equipment and handover of a mega skill acquisition centre for the North-East zone in Gombe State by Access Bank Plc.
He said that a similar one was being built in the North-West in Jigawa from the same bank.
Ibrahim said part of the programme’s achievements was the constructions of the South-West skill acquisition centre which was at completion stage in Ekiti.
He said that 40 SAED officers had been trained on entrepreneurship by multinationals such as e General Electric and Congnity Advisory using the ILO How-to-Start-Improve-Your-Business-Guide curriculum among others.
Ibrahim said that the challenges of the programme were inadequate funding and inadequate structure for implementation of a national skill and vocational training framework curriculum.
He said that the programme also was faced with the challenge of a lack of technical manpower for delivery of qualitative training.
“Other challenges are lack of standard vocational and skill training centres across the country and lack of quality business plans to attract the desired funding support for aspiring corps entrepreneurs.’’
Ibrahim said the “lack of synergy in the implementation of entrepreneurship development programme in Nigeria,’’ was a challenge to the programme.
He called for a stronger commitment to the inclusion of mandatory entrepreneurship education in the curricula of universities and tertiary institutions in the country.
“This will go a long way in steering the mindset of our youths that of seeking white collar job to self-employment,’’ Ibrahim said.
Prof. Chidi Ibe, Strategy Consultant, who was the guest lecturer at the meeting, said Nigeria in the 70s utilised its agricultural products which made her food sufficient and created employment for the citizens.
Ibe said that the country all of a sudden deviated from agriculture and as hunger threatened the land many things fell apart.
“Under agriculture life was good in Nigeria and there were lot of jobs for the citizens,’’ he said.
Ibe advocated that the country be more rooted in agriculture to ensure food security and create more employment for Nigerians.
He said that Nigeria must navigate to a safe operating space to achieve well development agricultural products.
Ibe said that for Nigeria to restore its glory again, it needed to seek for situation that would give comparative advantage to the country.
He said that the country needed vibrant educated youth to move it out of its current situation.
Ibe said that the country should overcome the barriers on agricultural information and technology and also remove barriers to start-up capital to allow young people to innovate and expand current agric-business.
“Africa’s food and beverage market is expected to top one trillion dollars in value by 2030 so Nigeria needs to how young’s can capitalised on these emerging agric-business opportunities,’’ he said.
Ibe advised the director-general of NYSC to be more proactive to ensure that the programme would be included in the budget.
Mr Hailary Nasamu, Director of SAED, said that unemployment in Nigeria rose from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.19 per cent in third quarter 2018.
Nasamu said that the situation was worst among youth aged 15 years to 25 years and so called on the government to pay more attention on skill acquisition.
He said that the programme was being implemented at the national and states levels.
Nasamu said that the programme lack materials for practical hands-on-training at the state secretariat.
The highpoint of the event was an exhibition of products by some corps entrepreneurs. (NAN)