From Kenneth Udeh, Abuja

One of the major factors fuelling the prevailing unemployment rate in the country has been attributed to lack of basic employability skills among Nigerian graduates, a factor that prevents them from meeting up with the growing competitive and dynamic labour market of the 21st century.

This was consensus over the week at the launch, in Abuja, of the Terraskills Graduate Employability Skills (GES) programme initiated by the Terraskills Learning Systems Limited.

The programme, it was gathered, was conceived with the aim of imparting Nigerian graduates with the requisite workplace innovation and skills to enhance their productivity to fit the demands of their employers.

Many eminent persons were in attendance. They include Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Deputy Senate Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Senator representing Gombe South, Senator Amos Bulus Kilawangs; Director General (DG) of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Aminu Mohammed; Chairman Terraskills, Mr Adam Isa Badamasi; General Manager Terraskills, and Prince Donald Ejieke Oguwa.

In his opening address, the company’s business development manager, Folade Olaitan outlined the various courses to be offered during the one-month duration programme. Folade explained that most Nigerian graduates lacked the skills required by employers to meet up with the current demands of the private sectors.

According to her, over 300 courses are to be offered under the Terraskills career advancement programme with over 70 facilitators drawn from various private sectors. Some of the courses include job primers recruitment solution, Digital literacy skills, Terranovatin hub, Terraskills mentorship services, counselling services, Terraskills for enterprise,  Terraskills for family and Terraskills for kids.

Terraskills General Manager, Prince Donald Oguwa  harped on the objective of the GES programme which he said was aimed at solving the challenges associated with  unemployment and dearth of skills among young Nigerians and especially the graduates.

He lamented the geometric progression of jobless graduates in the country: “The unemployment rate is increasing in a geometric progression. According to the NBS, the unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, up from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of the same year. This simply means that over 26 million young Nigerians are currently unemployed. Can this explain the high rate of crime and insecurity in our nation?”

He added that unemployment, being a national challenge, is the main area of focus Terraskills has chosen to proffer its home-grown solution.

“We believe that until the majority of our young people are actively engaged in meaningful employment and business ventures, the nation will continue to bleed. This is why the GES Programme is offering young people an opportunity to reclaim their lives, careers and future,” he said.

Addressing the seated trainees, Donald informed that during the next few weeks, participants “would be learning about the different innovative initiatives through our planned activities, seminars, simulations, role-plays, discussions, lectures, field works, indoor and outdoor events as well as group and team projects where they will be able to join in and get hands-on experiences.” He emphasised that these learning journeys will help the trainees grow to be more productive and smarter.

Senate Chief Whip, Kalu agreed that lack of properly trained graduates who don’t possess the requisite skills to secure jobs in the competitive labour market is one of the factors responsible for the high unemployment rate in the country.

Kalu, who was the chief host of the ceremony, also urged Nigerians not to blame President Muhammadu Buhari nor the National Assembly for the high unemployment rate, stating that many graduates are not groomed properly.

Kalu noted that some lecturers in tertiary institutions were not properly informed of the current needs of the labour market, which has also contributed, to the churning out of unproductive graduates.

“I have been a governor, so I know what I am talking about. Most of our graduates are not properly trained for the jobs. That’s why there is insecurity. Everything is not on Buhari or the National Assembly. It is because most people are not groomed properly for leadership.

“Going to the university is not enough because most of these lecturers don’t even know what they are teaching you. I became an entrepreneur before I went into politics and I am still the chief adviser of my companies that employ over 13,000 people so I know what I am talking about,” Kalu said.

While advising the participants of the Terraskills graduate skills training, Kalu also asserted that most people in many companies are not well trained.

“Training is the key,” said the former governor of Abia State. “No human being is perfect. Government is not perfect, the private sector cannot be perfect. What you should do is to take the good and throw away the bad.

“No knowledge gained is a waste. Even now, I want to leave the comfort of my office and go to the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and study. I won’t mind being a student with you here at Terraskills because studies are important,” Kalu stated.

He also noted that most of his factories are located in Lagos but informed that he’s about establishing a 150,000-ton rice mill in his village.  Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, who is also the founder of Terraskills, said it took him and his team three years of research to come up with the graduate skills training programme. 

“This is not about making money, but about developing human capital. Many graduates don’t have the skills. I’ve told the staff that anyone that is not trainable, after two weeks, his money should be refunded because he or she doesn’t have a place here.

“The essence is to improve the productivity of companies in Nigeria. We also want to help reduce the number of graduates without jobs in the country. We will continue to equip the graduates with the necessary skills to fit into the job environment,” he said.

Representative of the Director General (DG) of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Aminu Mohammed, said Tarraskills is replicating what the fund is doing at the ITF, adding that the management would ensure the companies continue to make Nigerian youths employable.”

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Source: news