…..has over 76 skills acquisition centres
By Chris Suleiman, Abuja
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bar. James Ocholi on Tuesday made a scary revelation on the unemployment situation in Nigeria. According to him, there is no data or any statistics on the number of un-employed and even employed youths in the country.
The Minister who was on a courtesy call to the chairman of All Progressives Congress, (APC) at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja told journalists that they met a bad situation on ground where the past administration had no data bank of the employment history of Nigerian youths.
He stressed that the first duty of his ministry was to collect data that will enable the ministry plan towards the graduate employment and skill acquisition programme.
“Before we got to where we are, there was no data anywhere. There is no data of the unemployed. In fact there is no data of the employed. It is a bad situation”, said Ocholi.
The Minister however stated that the Ministry has started the process of gathering data. He said, “As l talk with you, there are experts working on the software on how to capture the details of the unemployed and the employed. And for those who are employed, there are many who are in wrong places; there many who are in job and they are not enjoying the job and who want to have a job better than what they are doing.
“There is a firm that we have sourced for, working with the National Directorate of Employment, NDE right now. NDE had earlier done a pilot scheme in Bwari and the firm has an office in Lobito crescent and they are right now working in preparatory for a mega scale on job profiling,” Ocholid said.
The minister further reiterated that the core duty his ministry is job creation and skill acqusition, adding that the private sector has greater capacity to create jobs but the ministry will provide an enabling environment for job creation.
The minister also revealed the there are about 76 skill acquisition centres in the country managed by the National Directorate of Employment, (NDE) as well as several others established by the Ministry of Niger Delta for the Niger Delta youths as well as other centres established by the Ministry of Agriculture and even Finance.
Answering question from Media men on the nature of the training, the minister said they have to decide on how best to use the training centres for the benefit of the people.
“First of all how do we use the skill acquisition centres to drive maximum gain in training and re- training and enabling people who have certificates and cannot do anything, how can we get them to be skilled to be able to employ themselves and employ many others?
“So we have decided to identify how many skill acquisition centres we have in this nation, then we know the capacities of each one. There are several of them more than 76 of them but we have also discovered that Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has a lot of skill centres in the Niger Delta region which were built by the Ministry but they do not have capable hands with resources, with skills to be able to train. Minister of Agric has several even the Ministry of Finance.
“So we have decided to do a memo to the SGF for Mr. President to galvanize all such centres and bring them to one fold. Then we can do a planning on how many each centre can take for the next three months. What is the nature of the skill that can be acquired within the period of time, what do we do to sustain those people that will acquire the skill and while they acquire those skills what stipends can be paid to them to keep them in the training so that while being trained you earn something. That will bridge the gap between now and when they open their shop and begin to employ labour.
“So part of the N5,000 you hear may not actually end up being N5,000. For instance if a graduate eventually decides to go and acquire skill, and he is taken to a skill acquisition centre and he was earning N18,000 or N19,000 as a youth corper or whatever, he canâ€™t come back here and start earning N5,000. For a graduate you might need to pay him something higher to keep him in the training”, Ocholi added.
The minister also said that the details of the proposed 500,000 teachers transfer programme is being worked out by experts.
“For the retraing of teachers we have a programme being worked out by the technocrats. This is what we intend to do. There are serious deficiencies in the number of teachers we have across the country. We want to know why so many people are running away from teaching. Is it not lucrative enough or teachers are paid so little or teachers who donâ€™t have enough teachers are taking teachers on contract staff where they are paid bigger. We are designing a programme where people who read physics, all these sciences, geo-physics and so on and so forth and they do not have relevant place of work akin to their training.
“If you took a degree in physics, at least you can teach maths, you can teach other sciences in the secondary school . So we are trying to do just that and while you are in the 3 or 6 months training that will make you to be a teacher, you will earn salary. That same thing which I have told you about the skill acquisition centres will also apply in this job training centre. We want a situation where you will have people not empty handed .
“The training might take them 3 months, 6 months but whichever it is, you have already screened people you are training for teaching job but while they are still being trained you have started earning money. So there are several packages involved but this is the package I can give for now.
“The budget is being worked out but when the budget is out, we will know what is getting to where and what is voted for what sub-head and we will be able to give details of what will be done,” he said.