Precious Akintulubo of Nigeria Grassroot News visited the Atan-Otta community area of Ogun state to report how Government policy and entrepreneurs in the state are empowering youths to acquire vocational skills to reduce the high rate of unemployment in the community at large.
This reporter observed that, unlike the old ways where trainers boss over their apprentices in a braggadocious and supercilious mannerism of injecting fears into the apprenticeship minds, entrepreneurs have now adopted modern-day methods in upskilling the youths.
It was also understood that the government has introduced different vocational skills into the academic syllabus in the form of trade subjects to prepare students for entrepreneurship.
As usual, business activities were going well, and the motion of vehicles and legs wouldn’t stop in Atan Otta, Ogun State. It appears everyone is busy doing one thing or the other. What caught the attention of this reporter is that of an entrepreneur; a young Frozen food seller, Victor Emmanuel, a 25-year-old guy who was at his shop busy attending to his customers with his great customer service technique despite being a secondary school certificate holder.
Unlike some youths who are involved in crimes and social vices in society, Emmanuel decided to be different. The unemployment rate in the country was not an excuse for him as he has committed his youth age to learn a vocation after the completion of his Senior Secondary School.
“I started learning this vocation in 2016. Although I never had the intention to learn the vocation since there is no source of income for my parents to further my education, I had to get involved. As a young man, I don’t want to start stealing on the street. So, I started my business in March this year and it has been a profitable business.” he said.
Despite his flourishing business, Emmanuel disclosed that he still desires to attain a tertiary education degree. However, he is of the notion that no one can get a good job in Nigeria today without having a good vocation. So, he believes
“When I was opening this shop, my boss advised me to also get involved in education 6-8 months after I can get a good apprenticeship. In Nigeria today, vocation is preferable. Not all who get degrees from tertiary institutions secure a good job.” he said.
He also narrated that his brother who had completed his tertiary education degree several years ago is yet to secure a better job. In order not to get involved in social vices, Emmanuel’s brother established himself in the fishery business through the knowledge he had while in school.
“My brother is yet to secure a better job after his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) several years ago. He was lucky to have been able to learn fishery when he was in the tertiary institution from his friend’s father’s farm in which he has been able to establish himself in the catfish business and earn a befitting income”
Emmanuel further expressed his dissatisfaction with the unwilling attitudes of Nigerian youths that are reticent to learn skills or trade to keep themselves busy.
“Nowadays, You don’t need capital to learn a vocation yet the youths are already distracted by worldly things and they are not interested in acquiring this knowledge. All they want is urgent money without minding the source.”The incessant high rate of youth unemployment in the economy as of today has resulted into social crises like money riritualsfrauds, cyber crime, prostitution, indecency, armed robbery, thuggery, and more irrelevant situations. The root and pillar of every country are its youths but the youth unemployment rate in the country is disheartening.
Unemployment Rate In Nigeria
According to the world meter on Wednesday, August 30, 2022, Nigeria’s population is 217,177,613 based on the World meter elaboration of the latest United Nations data. A report by Vanguard indicates the age range of youths in Nigeria estimated the Youth population to be 33.6 million (16.8 percent).
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate is calculated as a percentage of the number of unemployed persons in the labour force hence the estimated rate of youth unemployment in 2020 is 33.28%. This data shows that a change of perspective and orientation is needed to empower Nigerian youth. However, youth unemployment could be caused by different factors i.e. lack of sustainable jobs, lack of qualifications, illiteracy, and more…
Ogun State Government Intervention
Internet fraudsters in the State recently held an award ceremony in Abeokuta where prizes were given to ‘best hacker and fraudsters.’ This is how bad the situation is and a statement by the executive Governor of the state, Governor Dapo Abiodun also confirmed that Ogun State tops the list of internet fraudsters, known as Yahoo Yahoo boys.
The Ogun State Police Command recently confirmed in a report that a young mentally unstable lady who stripped herself and barked like a dog in Abeokuta, the state capital, was used for a money ritual. “The young lady in question was alleged to have been spiritually and diabolically used by a suspected yahoo boy, as a result of which she started barking like a dog.” The State Police Spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi revealed.
Tackling this, Governor Dapo Abiodun revealed that his government has prepared to set up a commission to fight financial crimes in the state, with a view to flushing internet fraudsters from the state. Abiodun also declared war on the resurgence of kidnapping, saying they have no place in the state. Beyond that, the Governor has also established different empowerment programs for youths. One of which involves creating a job portal named “ISEYA” (I- Infrastructure, S- Social Warfare, E-Education, Y- Youth Development, and A – Agriculture). This was one of the steps taken by the governor at the inception of his administration where graduates and non-graduates who are skilled in various trades register for sustainable employment.
The Efforts Of Entrepreneurs In The Community
Atan Otta is a renowned community in Ogun State that has different pillars of vocations as well as an entrepreneurship scheme, however, the rate of youth unemployment in the community still alerts the attention of the residents as there has been a fear of the youth’s involvement in the robbery and other atrocities.
In an attempt to know how entrepreneurs and other sectors in this community are tackling the high rate of youth unemployment, this reporter visited both entrepreneurship and academic districts.
An experienced fashion designer, Mrs. Angela Chikwendu who is at her Fashion design shop is an entrepreneur who is also fighting a war against unemployment by training young girls and ladies in her trade.
She revealed that she learned fashion designing skills as a married woman and teacher after obtaining her Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) before setting up her workshop. She also gave her perspectives on the rise of youth social vices in the economy as a result of unemployment and how she is tackling the issue as an entrepreneur.
“The fact here remains that most of our youths are impatient. They want to make it at all costs and by all means while forgetting that they have to make hay while the sunshine. They want to make it without going through the hard process whereas one can’t make it without scaling through rigorous training. If you go to school, you still need to learn a vocation or art.
“To tackle this issue of unemployment, we, the bosses of nowadays need to apply wisdom in our relationship with the apprentices. We can’t train them the way we were being trained to get their attention.
“Talking from my experience, I learned this vocation as a school teacher and nursing mother. Every day after the day’s work at school, I will kneel for an uneducated mother and also beg her daughter who was my pupil not to put me in trouble because I am willing to learn. I will even help with domestics. Here I am reaping the benefits today. The case is not the same this time around. If you scold any apprentice, they won’t come again. Their parents will call to complain.” The certified teacher recounted.
Some youths avoid vocations as a result of the bosses’ or trainers’ method of training. Mrs. Angela gave reasons that some youths avoid vocations as a result of the trainer’s method which she said needs to be changed.
“I don’t even think being hard on apprentices is the best way to train them. The young girls can seize it as an opportunity to go after men by saying ‘Our boss sent us on an errand.’ I don’t train my apprentice that way. All they are expected to do is come to the shop, learn, and go. I don’t allow my personal life to interfere with my girls”. She emphasized.
Confirming Mrs. Angela’s account and her style of training, this reporter interviewed some of her trainees and they all attest that their boss is calm in her operations with them.
Being a Student Doesn’t Affect Learning Skills
Abeshin Rofiat, one of Mrs. Angela’s apprentices who is also a secondary school leaving certificate holder, gave her view on her insights while joining the vocation.
“I am learning this trade because I also want to have my tailoring school and shop. I also want to use this vocation as a source of income for me when I gain admission into a tertiary institution.”
Another apprentice named Oluwadamilola Jimoh shared her experience on how she realized that learning a vocation will be suitable for her.
“I decided to learn this vocation after I’m done with my secondary school education. I never wanted to learn but I later realized that having handwork will be a good one for me. My advice for youths nowadays is to go to school and as well learn a trade. The government also needs to intervene by creating a learning center for youths and also assist those who already have the skills by establishing their business firms.” she said.
From The Expert View
This reporter also visited the proprietor of Brainfield Group Of Schools at Atan Ota, Pastor Seyi Ayelagbe who emphasized that schools can play a big role in preparing students both for academic study and vacation learning as well.
The Principal also gave his perspective on the social vices caused by unemployment in the society and the government, through schools are preparing students for self-employment.
“Most parents have failed in their responsibilities by not spending enough time with their kids anymore. Also, parents’ eagerness to have graduates makes them allow their children who are not yet fit to take standard examinations to get involved in the process which results in the student’s inability to defend their credentials. Such students begin to constitute a nuisance in society.
“The government has played a good role on the issue of students involved in entrepreneurship by introducing trade subjects to the syllabus. Currently, we have courses like marketing, electrical installation and other trade subjects. There is a need for youths to learn a vocation in which being in school doesn’t stop one from learning a trade. Gone are the days when jobs were waiting for students the moment they graduated but comparing the level of students in school and the level of industrialization in society, we are below. So I don’t see the idea that students in school should face education squarely as a good one for now”. He said.
Ascertaining his position, this reporter also interviewed one of the students, Samuel Shotande who is also an artist trainee explained how he was able to manage his academics with vocation.
“I don’t allow my vacation to disturb my academics. Now that I am having my examination, I skip my shop to come to school. I will resume after the whole academic activities. If I become an artist without education, I will be cheated and be unable to speak fluently.” he said.
The case of unemployment is not an added value to society at large therefore, a solution is required. A beauty therapist in the Alimosho area of Lagos State who is also an Accountant and Child Mentor, Mrs. Roseline Kingsley believes in learning wide and this also made her get involved in her learning vocation too.
She explained that youths are not inspired by a lack of capital and resources and how different initiatives and sectors are creating an arena for youth empowerment by collaborating with different trade sectors to train and empower youths.
“I have been to places where trading fees are being subsidized and young people trooped in to learn. In this same seminar, we had a different sector where trade was being taught to these young people. I have also been to churches that conducted training for youths. Some were free while some were not, and these young people trooped in.
“I think that young people know the advantages of craft and trade. Some of these YAHOO guys, it is not like they don’t want to go into craft. Some people believe that they want this ‘get rich scheme’ in which they are very intelligent but there is no platform for most of them,” she said.
While Government, Entrepreneurs, and schools are making an effort, unemployed youths in the communities are advised to get involved in the vocational scheme as the importance of this training cannot be overemphasized in Nigeria’s current state of economy drawback. This in return will help minimize the skyrocketed rate of the unemployed youth in the society, ensure a peaceful and resourceful state of the nation, and largely provide a sustainable future for the current and upcoming generations.