The Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze, Anambra State, Dr Tessy Okoli, has stressed the need for skills acquisition centres to generate employment for teeming youths in the country. She said the high rate of unemployment among graduates could be curtailed if adequate attention was given to entrepreneurship and skills training at different levels.
The Provost stated this at the opening session of a four-day workshop organised by the School of Business Education of the College, in partnership with Afrexim Bank. The theme of the workshop was Employment Generation Through Small and Medium Scale Enterprises for Development of Nigerian Economy. The programme featured training sessions on computer graphics and design, photography, bricklaying, carpentry with large number of participants drawn from the institution.
While declaring the workshop open, Dr Okoli said the programme would bridge the skills gap among participants and expose them to the vast opportunities in the world of entrepreneurship. She expressed concern with the challenge of unemployment facing the country, noting that youths should be eager to leverage on skill acquisition programmes to enhance their competence.
She said the FCE (T) Umunze was founded on the mandate of educating for self-reliance, stressing that the institution would continue to explore new opportunities to impart technical, vocational and entrepreneurship training on her students.
“The new college modern bakery would soon commence production. Other vocational areas like tailoring, bead making, fashion and knitting will continue to receive deserved attention. The college Agribusiness Venture has also reached an advanced stage, with the completion and equipping of our college poultry, piggery, hatchery and others. We continue to seek partnership with relevant bodies to make our agribusiness viable,” she said.
Okoli urged the first batch of trainees to spread the knowledge they have acquired from the workshop, in order to multiply the value chain of the programme.
Earlier in his speech, the Dean, School of Business Education, Dr Dave Okoli, described small and medium scale enterprises as the engine of economic growth, and expressed concern that the sector has not been fully tapped in the country. He said SMEs, when fully explored, would generate employment and boost economic growth.
He said the College would continue to organise such training workshops to impart life changing skills on young people and expose them to vast arrays of opportunities in entrepreneurship. He further thanked Afrexim Bank for supporting the initiative, which he said, would impact positively on local economies.
In a keynote speech titled, Contribution of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) On Micro, Small And Medium Scale Enterprises For Development of Nigeria Economy, Prof. Nicholas Attamah, Head of Department, Economics, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), explained the importance of trade financing to SMEs. He, however, noted that finance often does not come easily to SMEs and suggested more finance to the sector to harness its potentials for economic development.
“Only less than 10 percent of bank’s trade finance facilities are extended to SMEs in Nigeria. This is significantly low given that SMEs account for more than 80 percent of firms in the country. The relatively low share of banks’ trade finance portfolio devoted to SMEs could be explained by the higher risk perception associated with funding SMEs. It could also be explained by the high costs (administrative, due diligence and others) that come from making multiple smaller transactions versus one big transaction for a large enterprise,” he explained.
Speaking on the topic, Stimulating Entrepreneurial Thinking, the Chief Executive, Cutix Plc, Nnewi, Mrs Ijeoma Oduonye, encouraged the participants to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and refuse to quit in the face of teething challenges.
Oduonye, who was represented by Mrs Ada Ikebuilo, urged would-be-entrteprenurs to prepare their minds for initial setbacks, challenges and obstacles, and encouraged them to see those challenges as opportunities.
“Each challenge or setback reveals a key opportunity to grow, either to improve upon an existing weakness or take measures to avoid experiencing a similar setback in the future,” she said.