By Asma’u Ahmad
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Solomon Dalung, on Monday called for a robust collaboration among relevant stakeholders to address youth unemployment in the country.
Dalung made this appeal in Abuja at a conference to commemorate the “World Youth Skills Day 2018” with the theme “Improving the Image of Technical and Vocational Education Training”.
He attributed the persistence of unemployment, hunger and poverty in Nigeria to the inability of stakeholders to work together, saying that all efforts geared towards addressing these problems were being made independently.
The minister said that this move would only bring short term results, calling for strong synergy and collaboration among stakeholders. He assured that the Federal Government would find lasting solutions to the problems.
According to him, another problem with our society is that the nation is a grammar speaking country that concentrates on certificates rather than skills. “We do not have high respect and regard for skills and entrepreneurship but place more attention on certificates,” Dalung said.
He also called for the inclusion of skills training in primary schools as that was the best platform to start training a child for the future.
“We do not celebrate hard work and this must stop if we want to address the problem. We also must go back to the beginning. “We must begin to teach this from the cradle which is the primary school. We must go back to a school system that introduces skills acquisition right from the primary school.
“The school system has been monetised; you now see students not even attending lectures but they appear during graduation to collect their certificate. We do this with impunity and we celebrate it. “The negative mindset of youths is also another major problem. When you encourage them to learn skills they feel it’s demeaning some of them even buy suit and tie before graduation.
“Our doors are wide open for synergy with stakeholders; we need stakeholders to engage with us. We are open to new and fresh ideas to address the problems. “We must begin to tackle this problem ahead so that as the years go by we can see visible results and reduce the problem by a percentage yearly,” Dalung said.
The minister urged the youths to desist from seeking greener pastures outside the country as they were putting their lives at risk. He said: “Some youths leave the country to seek greener pastures but there are no greener pastures outside Nigeria.”
He also called for strong political will to address the problem of unemployment, adding that without it, it will just be talk without improvement. Mrs Kwajaka Hauwa, who represented the Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig.-Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, said that the scheme has since 2012 been training corps members in various skills set.
Kazaure said that the skills included Agro-allied, ICT, energy and power, automobile, beautification, construction, cosmetology, culture and tourism. Others are education, environment, film and photography, food processing and preservation. He said that the scheme trained over 2,000 corps members in these skills set in 2017 alone.
Mr Boniface Awodi, a Credit Officer, Bank of Industry (BoI), said that the banks collaboration with the NYSC in youths training and empowerment has yielded results over the years. He, however, called on other stakeholders to boost mentoring capacity for the youths as this would help to enhance the economy in the country.
According to Awodi, Nigerian youths are ambitious but they lack the platform to thrive and be entrepreneurial.
Media men report that the World Youth Skills Day is celebrated yearly to raise awareness on the importance of investing in youth skills development.