By Steve Agbota
As part of efforts to actively engage millions of youth who remain unemployed after graduation, the Education Committee of Nnokwa Progressive Union (NPU), Lagos branch, has identified need to equip its youths with skills that will enable them to excel and become employers of labour.
The union has over the past eight years been developing Nnokwa youths with different capacity building programmes ranging from computer software and hardware development, programming, computer downloading and uploading, graphics design, bead making. Others include soap making, fashion designing, cake making and confectionery, catering, baking, make-up artistry and stock exchange junior broker, among others.
The NPU mentors and trains the children at young age through the youth forum in order to prepare them for hard work and what they stand to gain at the end. The union said it decided to catch them young so as to develop them new Aliko Dangotes, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbegs of Facebook fame in the years to come.
At the 8th NPU youth forum 2017 with the theme: “Skill Acquisition as a Tool for Empowering our Youths for Nation Building,” held at the weekend, the youths who participated were urged to have passion and determination for certain skill acquisition aside their formal education, since Education Committee of the NPU, Lagos branch, is ready to train them free of charge in the skills of their choices to make them become successful entrepreneurs.
The youths were made to understand that university degree may sometimes not fetch them their desired jobs. The union noted that a lot of people are making it today not because of their certificates but due to the additional skills they have acquired.
Addressing the youths at the forum, the Chairman, Education Committee, NPU Lagos branch, Rev. Festus Abone, said the union was focusing on skill acquisition because of the importance attached to it, as parents use their resources to send their children to school from primary to university levels only for most of them to come out and start looking for paid job.
He added: “As the economic terrain gets tougher, we believe that one of the ways of surviving the times is to make sure that our young ones acquire other skills apart from their formal education and that is why we urge them to learn one or two skills. We want our people to be able to make a living because surviving in today’s Nigeria is tough and challenging. It is only those that have things they are doing that are making it.”
He said the union doesn’t want the youths to become a burden to their parents after graduating from school, saying if someone knows how to bake and make hair, the only issue to be tackling is finance.
He added: “Now that there are some financial institutions like Bank of Industry (BoI) and other government intervention funds, the question they will ask you when you get there is, do you have the necessary skills? That is why there is need for us to refocus their mind not to just go to school thinking that the job is waiting for them, which has been our emphasis, and they are embracing it.”
He explained: “We are there to guide them, we will ask them to meet with us and we will interview them to know where their passions lie and then we mentor them in the direction where they go to get the skills they need. We finance that training and after they come out of the training, we will ensure that they understood what they went to learn. The next level is to prepare a business plan and feasibility study for them and the committee will take them to BoI for discussion.
“Already, we have the collateral, we are going to provide the referees the bank will need. And again, if there is a need for seed capital, NPU, Lagos branch, has a package we call poverty alleviation; that is where we are looking up to help these children because we want them to be useful citizens of the society. That is why we have been encouraging them so that our town will not lag behind in skills.”
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, NPU Lagos branch, Prince Charles Ezeagwu, said the union was proud to announce also that it has systematically re-channelled the vibrant energy of its teeming youths into constructive uses thereby adding value to GDP of the nation.