The Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment was created by the Akinwunmi Ambode Administration to address unemployment as well as under-employment challenges. Its Commissioner Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti says the government will partner the private sector to solve these problems, reports Simeon Ebulu.
The hue and cry of government’s desire to create jobs and take people, especially the youth out of the labour market, is an age-old syndrome. It is so because the emphasis has always been on the surface, chasing the shadow, rather than the substance. As serious as the issue is, not many states have thought it fit to create a separate ministry to tackle the matter.
There is recognition everywhere that the unemployment situation in Nigeria is critical, and that it is only a few metres away to the doomsday, where people will be moved to say, “Enough-is Enough,’ possibly leading to social upheaval and discontent with the establishment.
But all hope is not lost, going by measures being taken by the Lagos State government, in partnership with the private sector.
The Commissioner, Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, told The Nation that the ministry was embarking on certain innovative and critical intervention programmes, designed to arrest the unemployment drift and increase the wealth acquisition capabilities of the poor and unskilled population in the state. He listed them to include the Yaba ICT Hub, Health SMEs, Ruff N Tumble, Virtual Market for Artisans and the Graduate Internship Programme.
Yaba ICT Hub
He says the IBILE Broadband in collaboration with the ministry is proposing the Yaba area as an ideal location for a pilot ICT Innovation Hub/Cluster, saying the over 60 technology entrepreneurs in the area will kick start active participation in the innovative process through government support.
Yaba, he says, is an obvious choice for the pilot of this ICT Cluster initiative given the immense international interest in has garnered, pointing out that this year, US Senator Edward Markey from Massachusetts led a Congressional team on a visit to Nigeria and visited the ICT Hub. Famous Facebook Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, also paid a surprise visit, thus underlining the importance of the area to the ICT entrepreneurship community. This is in addition to the $24million invested in Andela by the Mark Zuckerberg Foundation.
Lagos State allocations and assets, such as the Sabo Industrial Estate, have been identified. As such IBILE broadband is in a position to acquire and develop the Estate to have potential off-takers occupy the space once renovated.
Durosinmi-Etti says there are on-going engagements with stakeholders along the axis, including former Federal Minister for Communication, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who is engaged in Venture Capitalism with offices and business interests in the area. He added that MacTay, Lagos State University’s (LASU’s) Vice Chancellor, Overseas Affairs & Investments (Lagos Global), iDeaHub, Systems Specs and SBTelecoms, are among the stakeholders.
Interactive Job Board
The Commissioner says the above board was created to support the Job Registration Centres in the state to actualise the ministry’s mandate, which includes the registration of unemployed citizens, promotion of labour exchange programmes, collation of data and statistics on employment and wealth creation matters both in the public and private sectors and sourcing for employment opportunities in both public and private sectors
Graduate Internship Programme
Durosinmi-Etti said this programme was created to address employers’ growing concern that recent college graduates do not possess the necessary soft-skills to transition into the workplace. Finding workers who have employability or job readiness skills that help them fit into and remain in the work environment is a real problem. Employers need reliable, responsible workers who can solve problems and who have the social skills and attitudes to work together with other workers. Creativity is now prized among employers who are trying to create the empowered, high-performance workforce needed for competitiveness in today’s marketplace. Employees with these skills are in demand and are considered valuable human capital assets to companies.
Employability skills are often vital in securing employment, he said.
Prospective employers, he says, are looking beyond what graduates have achieved academically and the internship programme, in his word, “ is designed to provide a unique opportunity for graduates to improve on student knowledge, skills” such as teamwork, initiative, analytical thinking, communication and character attributes. Globally, he says, there is evidence that internships improve employability and harness a broader range of life-skills.
Durosinmi-Etti, says these programmes, among others, are designed to meet the targets the Ambode administration has set for itself in the past two years.
Hear him: “In terms of meeting our target in the administration for the past two years, our strategy, like I keep saying, is that we try to create a conducive ecosystem within the state that will support our mandate which would promote employability among our young ones and also entrepreneurship. And in that process, we took cognizance of past governments’ initiatives. We took cognizance of the global and national dynamics due to what have changed, because that is really important. You have to know where you are going. We will not plunge into it to say it is going to be a game of numbers, we plunge into it to say how did we get to where we are.
“ What are the subsequent initiatives, how have we faired? How did we get to this stage and the main question would be how do we now go back and start again? And of course you know it is an arduous challenge, it is beyond one ministry
It is known publicly that there was a failure somewhere. The government did not recognise the other actors in the system. They did not take cognizance of the development partners of the private sector. If you take a look at all the past initiatives, the government tried to push capital out to promote jobs through a system that had no methodology in terms of computation.
“Let us take look at the time of the Operation Feed the Nation, Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).
Let us take a look at the most recent issue of SURE P. The question we should ask ourselves is: to what extent was the private sector involved? The government lives on budget. The government lives on tax paid by you and I. How does that feed into having to support these initiatives? The government has a limitation to what it can do, to the number of people it can employ, if you don’t expand the economy, you are not going to create employment. If you don’t promote entrepreneurship of small businesses you are not going to create employment because all these things go hand in hand.
“ Then let us go back to our educational system. I mean it has been eroded. And let us go back to our institutional values; we have a lot of these cognitive institutions which reinforce some of our normative values. It is not about going to school alone, it is about having a fair sense of where to go, what is going on around you. And again we should look at how moral values have also affected employability, which have also been translated unto our younger ones. So the environment just was not conducive enough, because the question I would like us to ask ourselves is, where are the Boys’ scouts, where are the Red Cross, the Girls guide! I mean where are all these cognitive institutions that reinforce our education system? Durosinmi-Etti, queries.
He says there’s need to re-enact the days where quality education was accessible to all, “ ranging from the poor to the rich and the crème de la crème of the society”.
He continues: “The first thing is, let us be pragmatic, let us build an ecosystem, that ecosystem where our youths can compete where our youths can be re-oriented. Where you can take all these institutions back to the schools for our youths and we come back and start working on these ones that are outside and at the same time we start working on gender, because women, they play a pivotal role in education. The socialisation pattern for our youths, gender plays a strong role. The woman determine the school, I am sure that you would agree that the women determine who your friends are, where you go.
“Whether we like it or not, we need to put all these things in the picture. And you will agree with me, and that was why when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode set up this ministry, one of the things he had in mind was the youth and how do we capture them. And, on the other hand, the government did not relent. My counterparts in the other ministries are building those structures, working hard on those structures which will add to these things. And we are all working together.
Durosinmi-Etti also said that because of the anxiety to make up for the lost time, you find out that departments are working at all levels silently and there will be a point in time whereby you now come up with synergies, adding, ”and you will see where it fits in”.
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