The Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), a programme whereby the unemployed graduates acquire employable skills, could be a modest way out of unemployment in Nigeria.
Recently, the programme took place across the country including Lagos, and it was a success. In this brief chat, a coordinator, Ms Florence Olusola Bagbe, sheds light on what the programme is all about.
Can you tell us briefly what GIS is all about?
My name is Florence Olusola Bagbe. I am the coordinator for GIS, an orientation and employment skills training for interns held recently at CMD Auditorium, Shangisha, Lagos.
GIS is Graduate Internship Scheme; it’s an initiative of the Federal Government, which the Federal Ministry of Finance actually coordinates and sees to the effect that unemployment is reduced in the society. GIS is a programme that accommodates interns for the period of one year. During this period, they are being put under internship with a private organisation to learn what the work environment is all about, such that they can be employable, because there’s usually a gap between fresh graduates and employable graduates. It’s been noticed over the years that our graduates are not employable, so this will make them employable because they will go through one year internship training.
What are the other objectives of the training scheme?
GIS will enable interns optimise their internship period by developing useful skills and positive work habits. It provides an opportunity to share experiences with other participants, including partner representatives on opportunities and challenges in the workplace. Also, the scheme exposes participants to opportunities for life after internship. And lastly, it contributes to service delivery and performance of partners.
Who qualifies for the GIS programme?
To qualify for the programme, you must be a university or polytechnic graduate that has gone through a one year mandatory NYSC. But if you have not gone through the NYSC, you must have a letter of exemption before you can be allowed to enroll for the programme. And within that period of a year, you are given the opportunity to serve as an intern with an organisation, where they mentor you, and in most cases, we have seen several testimonies of people being retained within the organisation because of their good conduct.
Okay, what about the orientation being conducted at CMD?
It’s to prepare the interns for the work environment so that when they get there, they won’t be behaving like students. It’s a way of making them familiarize with the work environment. And when they get to the organisation, they will be cultured and abide with the rules of the system. At the end of the training, they will also partake in something called exit training. The exit training is about the opportunities that are available for them and how they can cope with the environment.
What’s the duration of the exit training?
It’s a three-day programme.
Apart from this, what else do you do for the interns?
Over the years, there have been interventions made available for those that want to be entrepreneurs. We have seen people that started as GIS interns, applied for loans, and of course they got it, and today they are entrepreneurs.
How many interns have benefited from the scheme so far?
So far, 41,161 graduates have benefitted from the scheme, with 68 per cent males, 31 per cent females and 1 per cent vulnerable. Over 35,000 have exited the scheme, with thousands of them having secured jobs. Many have secured credit facilities and grants (including YouWiN! Grants) to expand businesses they set up using GIS stipends, and many have set up cooperative associations, some of which have transformed into SMEs. Rather than seeking for work, they are now employers.