Tackling Unemployment, The Osun Example
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), not long ago, revealed that no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. This figure, it is believed, is a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3m.
The above is a reflection of previous governments’ inability to design policies that will create more jobs, or provide enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.
If government needed to know the gravity of the nation’s unemployment rate, especially graduate unemployment, the trampling of graduate job seekers to death during stampedes at the 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment drive across the country, presents a graphic picture of the problem. That incident, alone, tells us that something needs to be done urgently to address the scourge of unemployment in the country.
World Bank statistics recently put the number of Nigerians living in destitution at 100 million, while it’s most recent report put Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world. The high rate of unemployment and low per capita income in the country are just two of the indices used by the World Bank in arriving at this assessment.
All levels of government in the country need to be reminded that unemployment, especially among youths, is a time bomb for any country. Experience from other nations, including some in Africa, has pointedly shown that youth unemployment could provoke violent revolutions as we had in the Arab Spring. We, therefore, advise the government to design larger and more realistic programmes for job creation.
It is in line with the above that the government of Osun establishes an office called Osun Job Centre. This is in pursuance of a key component of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola-led administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan which is banishment of unemployment from the State. The Job Center is established as a State Government of Osun-funded one-stop employment agency with desk offices located at each of the 30 Local Government Areas of the State and the Area Office.
The Center will act as a facilitator between job seekers and employers by providing employment information and services to a wide range of people, from the unemployed looking for employment, the underemployed looking for a better job, to employers advertising job openings. It is aimed at eradicating barriers to employment by promoting education, training and business enterprise. It will contribute to the personal development of the labour force through the creation of opportunities for their productive engagement and utilisation.
The Center provides employment service tools such as:
An infrastructure for the business community to post its skills needs
As well as In-house computers with free access to the internet
These are situated at the Center’s Head Office in Osogbo, the desk offices at all the 30 Local Government Secretariats and the Area Office for registration purposes only.
• Career Counselling:
• Career Exploration of available opportunities to help make informed employment and educational choices
• Personal Career Development
• Other Career related issues
• Employability Skills Training:
• Seminars to enhance the employability and entrepreneurship of participants
• Effective CV & Cover letter Preparation
• Interviewing Skills & Technique Coaching
• Personal Branding Skills & Communication Skills
• Presentation Skills
• Verification of Qualifications and Employers
• Verification of Academic qualifications, (Degree, WAEC, NECO, GCSE etc)
• Verification of Professional Certifications
• Verification of NYSC certificates
• Verification of Past and Current Employments
• Reference checks
• Verification of the Physical address of companies
• Annual Job Fairs:
• To provide a venue where job seekers can meet and network with representatives of prospective employers from diverse sectors of the economic with the possibility of securing employment.
The Desk Offices operations:
• Desk Officers will be stationed at each Local Government Area to provide information to job seekers and employers on the employment related services provided by the Job Center
• In-house Computers with free access to the internet will be available for registration purpose only, (assistant available to those not proficient in usage of the internet)
• Platform will be provided for businesses at each Local Government Area to physically post job openings.
However, the private sector also has a role to play in creating employment, as experience has shown that government alone cannot provide all the needed jobs. Unemployed persons, too, will also have to start working towards self-employment, through which they may even provide jobs for others.
This is no longer the time to sit on the fence. Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems that all levels of government must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged, and out of avoidable trouble.
These efforts by Osun government are worth of emulation by other states of the federation. Observers, including the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo once declared that Osun, out of the thirty six states in the federation, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of the Ogbeni’s administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.
This new move at establishing a job centre is just one of them. The VP declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty. “The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the federal government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria.”
Aregbesola was once quoted as saying “The development of micro and small businesses forms a core component of our poverty alleviation and economic empowerment strategy.
“This is part of our six-point integral action plan that, among others, seeks to banish poverty, unemployment and hunger.
“We have designed programmes aimed at unlocking our people’s creativity and genuinely set them on the path of self-employment and self-reliance.
“I am certain that our people are hard-working and would at all-time take pride in working to earn a decent living.
“With the numerous programmes we are implementing, we are on the road to change the fortune of our state and lives of our people for better.
“Many of these programmes, like OYES, O’REAP, O’YESTECH, O’MEALs, O’Schools, O’Beef and O’BOPS, among others, have offered many of our youths self-reliant job opportunities and I want to assure you all that we have only just begun. A lot more good things are still coming”, he asserted.
The faster governments in Nigeria, federal, states and local governments, move in that direction the better as we have seen the concomitant effect of youth unemployment manifests itself in various forms across the country. Kidnapping, armed robbery and even militancy in the Niger Delta and to some extent the Boko Haram menace could be identified as some of the negative outcome of unemployment.
Ayo Akinola, arpa, is a publisher and media consultant based in Lagos; Bola Akande is a former commissioner for Human Resources & Capacity Building, State of Osun