The Ogun State Coordinator, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Dr. (Mrs.) Belinda Faniyi, has charged Nigerian youths to surmount the challenge of high unemployment rate in the nation by embracing vocational skills. Delivering the keynote lecture at the last edition of Corpers’ Week, organised by the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta Corpers Association (FUCA) titled, “Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development: Panacea for Unemployment – A Case Study of the National Youth Service Corps”, Dr. Faniyi stated that the development of vocational skills by youths was critical to economic survival of any nation.
According to her, for a country to achieve national aspirations, its youths should have adequate access to education that would enable them improve their standard of living by gaining competitive skills that would be in high demand at the labour market. Dr. Faniyi noted that young people that lack valuable skills in global and local economies, face limited job opportunities and income growth, stressing that the changing nature of work today was putting increased pressure on the youths to acquire technical, vocational, and educational skills.
The State Coordinator identified youths among the big losers in the recent economic crisis, identifying technical and vocational education as the ‘silver bullet’ to solving the problem of joblessness. She reiterated that in 2012, the Federal Government directed NYSC to establish the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Department, to address the issue of joblessness in the country, stating that the Department was tasked with sensitising corps members on the realities of the Nigerian job market and providing foundational, entrepreneurial, and practical skills that would allow them explore the options of self-employment, or starting up their own businesses.
She explained that the unemployment rate in Nigeria had increased to 23.9 per cent in 2011, from 21.1 per cent in 2010 and 19.7 per cent in 2009, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), reiterating the position of a former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and incumbent President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who stated that, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was spiralling, growing at 11 per cent yearly, and driven by the wave of four million young people entering the work force every year with a small fraction being able to secure employment.
She added that the NYSC-SAED mandate was to contribute meaningfully to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing extreme poverty and hunger, stating that the programme was a nationwide initiative by targeting Nigerian graduates that were mobilised for the one year national service programme, designed to be implemented within the framework of camp (In-camp), and the service year of the corps members (Post-camp). The Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship Studies (CENTS) of the University, Prof. Babatunde Adewumiadvised that corps members should be exposed to industrial training, to enable them gain practical experience on the field before going into the labour market.