Monday, April 22, 2013

Making Graduates Employable

Published On: Mon, Apr 22nd, 2013 Peoples Daily Newspaper

In Nigeria, working experience has been a challenge for  graduates looking for jobs. In this report AYODELE SAMUEL writes on efforts to tackle it

Oluwaseun Akinwale is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife Osun State, since her completion of NYSC in 2011 all her efforts to get a befitting job has been futile.
Armed with her degree, discharge certificate, and other relevant professional certificates, Oluwaseun misfortune had always been more than two years work experience which most firms are demanding from her.
"one major problem have been facing in search of jobs has been working experience , no company wants to give me a trial, they don't want 'try and error', and are not ready to spend on graduates training, all they want is a perfect applicant, who has got the experience to improve their organization, "Oluwaseun told Peoples Daily.
In Nigeria today, many young graduates like Oluwaseun, are struggling with 'years of work experience' which makes it difficult to secure dream jobs from multi-national organizations.
However succor has come the way of Oluwaseun, as the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Public Works, Youth and Women Employment Component of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program (SURE-P) established the (Graduate Internship Scheme) GIS, which aims to provide the unemployed graduates youths with job apprenticeship opportunities that will expose them to skills and experiences relevant to the current labour market and enhance their employability.
Such interns can use the opportunity not only to gain working experience and enhance their employability , also provides graduates interns with a monthly stipend of N18,000..
Launched in October, 2012, the Project Director of GIS, Mr Peter Papka said it is a social scheme to ensure that Nigerian graduates are not subjected to unemployment due to lack of experience.
He said GIS is one of the windows the government is opening to create opportunities for jobs for the Nigerian graduate.
Speaking during the first orientation session in Lagos to interact with the firms and interns in order to train the interns on work ethics, motivational issues and to exchange ideas on how to move the programme Lagos, Bayelsa, Ondo and FCT has the highest number of applicants, but the scheme might be considering 1,000 interns per state of the federation.
According to Papka, deployment of graduate interns has commenced with more than 13,000 graduates applied for the scheme in Lagos.
He disclosed that of the first batch selected for the scheme, 158 interns are to work in 50 firms in Abuja while another 168 had been selected to work in 60 firms in Lagos, saying that one of the aims of the scheme is to target graduates who the present administration believes should be strengthened by building their capacities for post-scheme employment in their places of their deployment.
"The project has commenced registration of firms and over 88,000 beneficiaries have been registered, this is beyond our target of 50,000 allotted for the scheme in any given year, however the government might increase the numbers of participant to accommodate other unemployed graduates who are queuing up to partake in the scheme.
The Project Director therefore advised the graduates to see the opportunity as a rare opportunity for self-development that would encourage the companies see their productive potentials and by implication, avail them opportunity of employment after their one year engagement.
"Go in there to build your skills in sectors which I believe will create avenues for you and an opportunity for you to demonstrate you have an opportunity to demonstrate you have something to offer and can be employed
"The firms have assured us that some of you will be retained and I hope you will go in there and change the face of the way organisations render their services."
He said the GIS would engage the Small and Medium enterprises in Lagos to ensure that they benefited from the scheme.
He said the private sector which is the major driver of the economy would not employ fresh graduates who lacks employability skills and experience to move the organization forward.
The Major challenge of the Graduate Internship Scheme is that the level of buy-in from the firms is below expectation, Papka said very few firms have applied for the interns despite the advantages that will accrue to such firms. "They get to enjoy free labour at government expense as government will pay the monthly stipends of the interns, they get to select the best interns to join their workforce and they get a cost-free opportunity to render their Corporate Social Responsibility. The project is also planning other incentives like tax rebates for companies registered with the Project.
He added that as part of efforts to rev up interest of firms and multinationals across the country , is the planned interactive session between the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and captains of industry and heads of national and multinational corporations on the 29th April, 2013 at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton. This is to be followed by state-level engagements with firms all over the country.
Communication Advisor SURE-P Community Service Women and Youth Empowerment Programme Mrs Mary Ikoku Said the scheme is set to increase jobs opportunities for graduates by making them employable "we have the complains that many of our graduates are unemployable, the government under the present administration decided to create the component under the SURE P programme targeted at delivering a prominent job opportunities for the teeming unemployed graduates, the scheme basicly is to provide employability skills and also skills to make our graduates employable, you will agree with me that some of our graduate are unemployable this has been the complain from job providers, various stakeholders where consulted to put this programme together.
She said the SURE P is using the scheme for providing jobs for women and youths by reinvesting the subsidy funds into training of the graduate, women and youths Nigeria through the Youth and Women Employment Component.
She said some mechanism have been put in place to monitor and evaluate deployed interns, to ensure the graduates works in a safe environment, to ensure they are well taken care of, they are treated at par with the other employees of that establishment, we let them know that whatever guiding principle that exist in any establishment is attainable to them, they must submit themselves submit themselves to any rules and regulation obtainable in any organization they are assigned to go and work.
She urged youth across the country to ensure that their skills have been developed towards empowering them to be employable in the short, medium,long term. GIS will ensure that youths are attached as apprentices in reputable public and private firms for a period of one year where the skills of such individuals will be sharpened as well as boost their chances of becoming self employed. While the GIS is designed as a short-term measure, it has high prospects for job creation in the country.