At Young Professionals Forum, organised by a group of Deeper Life churches, experts tutor youths, others on how to prosper in salaried and self-employed jobs
It was a great eye-opener to many participants as they sat, with rapt attention, to listen to lectures and talks by successful industrial and business experts.
The Young Professionals Forum (YPF), recently organised by Deeper Life Bible churches under the Akesan, Igando, Idimu-Isheri, group of districts in Lagos, turned out to be a huge blessing to employed and unemployed men and women who attended the programme.
Coordinator of the programme, Chinedu Ossai, said it was an empowerment initiative targeted at helping youths between the ages of 21 and 35, to reach the peak of their careers, whether in salaried or self-employed jobs. Ossai, a lawyer, is the legal/compliance officer at Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc. It was an event that featured exciting moments of prayers, lectures, discussion, question-and-answer and a homily.
Mr. Tunde Hassan, the guest speaker, who dwelt on the topic “Unemployment: Preparing for your dream job through personal branding,” used his life stories to illustrate some of the points he raised during his lecture.
Hassan, principal research officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, and currently, a World Bank-sponsored doctoral scholarship candidate on climate change, told the story of how he once resigned his teaching job in a private school, where he was being paid a monthly salary of about N10,000 as a master’s degree holder, to start writing school textbooks in such areas as civic education, basic introduction to science and technology, Christian religious knowledge, etc, based on the WAEC-approved syllabus.
Along the line, he hit a goldmine with his efforts, as some of the 10 textbooks he has written and published so far are now hot cakes in many schools not only in Lagos but also in other states of the federation. “You can never be where you want to be in life if you are on employed job,” he warned. “So, self-employment is the answer.”
Each of the panel of discussants, which met and sat together after the lecture to provide deeper insights and broader perspectives on the paper, started with small talks in which they shared their personal experiences.
In his paper, “Self-employment: Thinking big, starting small,” Jonathan Nweke, head of training, Industrial Skill Training Centre, Industrial Training Fund, Lagos, observed that one major obstacle to overcome in the area of self-employment was the fear of the unknown.
“Many times, we are afraid we might fail if we leave paid employment to engage ourselves in self-employed jobs,” he remarked. “We are afraid of what might happen, if we eventually fail to succeed. But we need not entertain such fears.”
He narrated a personal story of how, after graduating with one of the best results in mechanical engineering from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, he used N50,000 given to him by his dad, a retired civil servant, to start an iron/metal fabricating business, which has blossomed into a multi-million naira business venture today. He challenged participants to try to take risks with self-employed jobs.
“Only few people become millionaires by working for others,” he said. “So self-employment is a risk worth taking.”
In his own paper, “Making it big as an entrepreneur,” Mr. Dare Bola, managing director/CEO, Joshibrah Company Ltd, export consultant/exporter of Nigerian commodities, stressed the importance of integrity in business.
Bola who was formerly a sole distributor of dental products in Nigeria for the UK-based Technical and General Ltd, before going into the business of exporting Nigerian-made products, told the story of how he got the company to trust him enough to begin to do big business with him.
“In the midst of stories about crooked and fraudulent practices being perpetrated by Nigerian businessmen, you will need to get people with whom you are engaged in business to trust you, if you are going to make it big as an entrepreneur,” he said.
Buttressing his points by reeling out figures from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation on how, out of 100 people who start business, only 20 per cent succeed (60 per cent of people don’t go beyond having some business ideas, he said), he added that anyone must deliver some value before such a fellow could become a successful entrepreneur.
“You will need to create and deliver value. You must develop business models,” he told the audience “what problem have you discovered around you that you think you can solve by developing a business model? How we solve some problems and make some money out of it is what makes someone a successful entrepreneur,” he said.
Mr. Akin Akinola, freight manager, Total Nigeria, spoke briefly on “Paid job: creating great CVs and handling job interviews.”
He noted that although various experts who spoke before him advocated self-employment, the reality was that one must start somewhere with a paid job. He noted that creating a good and excellent curriculum vitae (CV) was important.
He added that, from his experience as an employer of labour, many candidates who apply for vacant jobs don’t know how to attract good salaries by packaging themselves well in their CVs.
“What your prospective employer is looking for is: what value can you add to the company or organisation? How can your skill help to grow the organisation? So you must be able to market your skills well in your CV. Beyond your educational qualifications, you must be able to talk about your job experiences so well that your employer will want to pick you from the lot of other people who applied for job.
“Apart from what you are able to do, you must state what you’ve done before now, where and in what capacity or position. You must state your job description, what projects you’d participated in and how well you did it. You must also add awards and honours you’ve got as a result of your skills. Good CVs should be able to sell you. But when you write your CV, you must ensure that everything you put in that CV, you can defend it. Don’t claim some skills you don’t have,” he said.
The short presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session in which participants wanted to know, among other things, how they could combine busy work schedules with personal development through further studies, what help ITF could render to unemployed graduates, whether non-graduate skilled workers like plumbers, electricians, etc. could have CVs, and how one could start a business with little or no capital. All the questions were answered to the enquirers’ satisfaction.
The programme was rounded off with a short homily titled “Where Art Thou?” delivered by Emmanuel Kikekon, senior editor, Life Press Limited, the publishing arm of Deeper Life Christian Ministry and one of the group pastors.