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Offering youth passport to employment

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The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), a body established by the state to tame the unemployment scourge among the youth. Through vocational training, the fund is helping them gain requisite knowledge and skills to get job placements. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

Under employment rates in Nigeria,  analysts say, have been increasing rapidly over the past few years. According to them, the youth constitute at least 40 per  cent of the population of about 180 million and 80 per cent of them are unemployed.

With the massive wave of graduates entering the labour market, it is hard for job growth to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for jobs. Furthermore, many graduates lack the skills to communicate effectively with employers and find jobs in their field of study.

It is also with the vision of building skills for better jobs and other goals that Lagos State set up the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).

Through its employability support project,   LSETF is evolving practical, high-impact solutions aimed at creating transformative jobs through training.

Today, LSETF is one of the many success stories of the state in training youths to acquire skills.

Recently, the project set out to implement employability skills training in key sectors such as manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment, construction, health and garment making. Some of the training programmes were implemented by vocational training institutions.

The programmes were about giving young people the very best chance to change their lives, with vital skills and meaningful opportunities that have the potential to lead to full-time employment or further education. Individual approach ensures that every young person is supported to grow in confidence, develop employability skills and gain work experience that will help towards their Curriculum Vitae.

Under the project, each learner gains opportunities to learn new skills and take part in work experience with a local employer. Learners leave the programme with improved confidence and the right skills needed to move into full-time employment.

Graduates of the programme spoke highly of how they are turning their lives around with the help of Employability Support Project.

Omolara Willoughby, a Mass Communications student at the National Open University of Nigeria  (NOUN) is a beneficiary of one of the training programmes. Before now, she had tried several job interviews and was never considered due to lack of experience.

She was drawn to LSETF’s website where she applied. Following her success in the screening exercise, Miss Willoughby was on work placement as a house keeper/Front Office Assistant, at First Standard Insurance Brokers, Onikan, Lagos. While on internship, she gained skills necessary for the position and is flourishing in her new job. She completed training in employability and personal development and has secured an apprenticeship as housekeeping assistant.

According to her, the training gave her the skills and opportunity to prove herself to her employer. She learned about customers, how to present herself and improve her disposition.  Her confidence has really improved. Consequently, she    has   worked her way up to be a key worker on the Front Desk section at First Standard Insurance Brokers.

Miss Willoughby   thanked Lagos State for granting her the training.  She looked forward to a long term career in the industry.

Another success story from the programme was Mrs Chidinma Uche, now working at Cherry Bay Hotel, Surulere, Lagos as a house keeper.  She was happy with her work placement.   Despite her good nature and beauty, she   had difficulty finding a job. As a housewife, she was concerned about increasing family responsibilities which required money to solve. The only solution she could think of was to improve her profile to enable her get a job.  She attended pre-employment training at a vocational centre, supported by the LSETF and completed her internship. While there, she benefitted from counseling sessions and soft skills training as well as training on housekeeping.

Today, her story has changed. Mrs Uche is proud to be associated with the LSETF for giving her and others the opportunity to kick-start a career in hospitality. She described it as a wonderful initiative.   She now has a long term career ahead of her in the industry.  LSETF through its Employability Support Project provides six to eight weeks of vocational training to Lagos residents. Work placement/internship enables employers to assess them in a live work placement, which in some ways, is the interview process. The project is supported by a network of strong partnerships with employers, schools and other organisations, who help learners take their first steps towards employment. They always look after the needs of young people and provide them with real opportunities to progress.

LSETF Executive Secretary,  Akintunde Oyebode, explained that the project aimed at addressing the unemployment challenges in the state, while also equipping active youths with relevant skills to enable them contribute to the socio-economic development of their communities. Oyebode was quoted as saying: “The Employability Support Project addresses key sectors of the economy that require highly skilled workforce to spur innovation, creativity and business growth. LSETF aims to train 10,000 young people to gain skills in six sectors namely – manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment, construction, health and garment making that will help place them in line for immediate employment. Some of the youths trained under the Project 8 vocational training centers across the state have graduated. Organisations such as Dangote Group, Samsung, Crown Nature Plc, Whispering Palms, Farenheit Hospitality, X3M group among several others, led the way in the employment of the trained young workmen and women.

LSETF Chairman, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, said the objective of the employability project is to improve the technical and vocational training outcomes in the state with an aim to increase employment opportunities for young people in Lagos.

Since the fund opened the application process in December last year, it has received over 13,000 applications with garment making (26 per cent), hospitality (20 per cent) and construction (18 per cent), being the most popular sectors.

Out of the 13,000 applicants, it screened 3,985, approved 3,305 successful applicants and admitted 1,181 students across the six sectors in 12 vocational training centres.

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