With the fast changing world, driven by innovation and technology, expectations of the 21st century world of work are becoming dynamic and so are the workplace skills’ requirements for employees to function. To this end, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is partnering with other sectors to train over one million Nigerian youths in order to prepare and equip them for the relevant workplace skills that are required in the 21st century.
The National Bureau of Statistics report in 2016 revealed that 13.5 million youths of employable age are currently unemployable in Nigeria. The fundamental employability challenge among young people is a spectacle that must be addressed and the need for government and other relevant stakeholders to continuously harness and equip the nation’s critical asset with contemporary skill is very vital.
While we may not know exactly which jobs will come on stream to be labeled employable jobs, the National Employability Skills Development and Internship Job Programme and Job Fair, jointly organised by NOUN’s Centre For Human Development (CHRD) and Nigeria Youth Chamber of Commerce will explore the good ideas of competitive soft and transferable skills that are needed in the 21st century. The programme which is to further train over one million unemployed youths in soft skills per quarter nationwide is set to build a critical mass of employable and work ready human resources for national development in order to reduce the escalating rate of unemployment hence the economy of a nation is only as good as its human capital resource and its growth and sustainable development.
Of course, there have been reports from experts that young people lacked the emerging and contemporary skills hence the prevailing employability challenge among them. The gap, however, has become a phenomenon that has thrown critical concerns to employers of labour, who, most at times, see the graduates as lacking the job skills even though they have the certificates. Worried by this, NOUN and the NYCC developed National Employability Skills and Internship Programme (NESDIP) to provide employability training and internship opportunity for fresh and unemployed graduates. This is to address the deficit of labour requirement occasioned by the prevailing workplace skills gap and also to equip young people with relevant skills to enable them unlock their innate potentials.
Speaking comprehensively on the target objective of the programme, the director, centre for human resource, NOUN, Professor Grace Joktham said; “We realize that there is a huge gap between what the university offers in terms of curriculum and what the 21st century world require. It is in order to fill this gap that NOUN and NYCC actually came up with NESDIP. The programme is aimed at equipping young people with the soft skills that is required in the present day world of work.
“This will go a long way in not only making the employable but also help them redeem their employment and also enable them progress in their career. We are therefore, in this sector to also contribute our quota in the national mandate of increasing employment.” She said the training components of the programme are drawn from globally acknowledged 21st century workplace skills designed to be thought provoking, participatory and interactive sessions delivered in a 21- day comprehensive engagement that provides interns with the opportunity for experiential and practical learning exercise.
According to her, “The programme is structured on a comprehensive three weeks intensive employers led training on contemporary workplace skills, a three- month internship programme to demonstrate skills learned and opportunity to gain practical workplace experience, graduation and issuance of National Employability Proficiency certificate upon satisfactory employer recommendation on completion of internship programme profiling on the eagle online portal pool of work ready human capital where employers of labour can draw from.” Joktham concluded that outstanding interns will be treated with preference after completing their course.
On a similar note, the chairman, Nigeria Youth Chamber Of Commerce, Mr Peter Ayim, said the programme which is targeted at over one million youths to be trained per quarter nationwide will open the door for so many looking for jobs. He said the over 13.5 million figures of unemployed youths in the country as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics require urgent action as the numbers keep increasing on daily basis.
”There is need for us to do this intervention to help address that challenge and that is how we came up with the idea and of course, it is a partnership with NOUN to leverage on the brand of the university in terms of their network of study centres across the country and to help see how we can collectively work towards addressing this phenomenon. “So we are looking forward by working with stakeholders across the country. There are countries who don’t have natural resources like we have and they depend on the human capital to drive their economy and that can only be determine by the quality of what you have. So we hope that through this programme, we can raise young people that are ready to work.”
He said the curriculum intended for the programme is inclusive. “The curriculum covers national skills and a whole lot of things not really found in school curriculum. The way this programme is structured, anybody who passed through it cannot be compared to one who has not because it is transforming. We are going to open their eyes and their mindset,” he added.
Commenting on the significance of the programme on the national growth of Nigeria economy, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Professor Abdalla Uba, said the university shall have a collaborative effort to tackle the problem of graduate unemployability. He said there are some nations such as Singapore that do not have natural resource but are doing very well, adding that NOUN will ensure the collaborators get maximum cooperation. In all, youth employment interventions increase the employment and earnings of those youths who participate in them. Therefore, the significance of entrepreneurship promotions and skills training for young people cannot be overemphasised.
The programme which is drawn from the organised private sector, certified members of professional organisations with cognate experience in human resource headhunting, training, recruitment and management as well as employers of labour to deliver and share practical workplace experience along the lines of their expectations from potential employees will benefit so many unemployed youths in the country.