By Nimot Adetola Sulaimon
Lagos State Government has revealed that the Eko job initiatives designed for final year students and those in penultimate classes will reduce unemployment in the state.
Also that the Eko Digital Skills were aimed at equipping students with essential skills that will make them be relevant and make their services essential in the labour market.
Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo Olu on Education, Barrister Tokunbo Wahab disclosed at Alausa, Lagos while briefing the press about the activities of his office.
He noted that those innovations were part of the State Government efforts at reducing the unemployment rate in the State.
According to him, the jobs initiative programme of the State Government is aimed at preparing final year and penultimate students of tertiary institutions for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour by equipping them with the market aligned knowledge, soft skills, business tools and the mindset reorientation in the world of work.
Wahab explained that the State Government is worried by the growing rate of unemployment in the country and came up with initiatives to help youths develop their skills and break the barriers standing between them and job opportunities.
He revealed that as of the 3rd quarter of the year 2017, more than half of Nigeria’s nearly 185 million were under 30 with youth unemployment standing at 33.10 percent.
While regretting that a large number of graduates turned out yearly by the Nation’s institutions of higher learning lacked employability skills, Wahab explained that the need to bridge the gap to reduce the growing rate of the unemployment rate and its attendant consequences was one of the reasons why the State Government has not relented in building capacity and committing resources to skills acquisition and vocational development.
‘Lack of employability skills exacerbates Nigeria’s unemployment problem. Not a few employers have complained about the skills mismatch in the employment market, they lament that graduates of our institutions of higher learning come out lacking both technical and soft skills to fit into the workplace’’ he stated.
Going further, the Special Adviser explained that the Lagos State Government has realized this gap sought the collaboration of the private sector to work with the Office of the Special Adviser on Education to develop a programme that would bridge the gap and empower its teeming young population, thereby, prepare them ahead for the workplace challenges.
According to him, Loftylnc Allied Partners Limited (LAPL) was considered most suitable among the private consulting firms that showed interest to work with the State Government in building youths capacity.
This, such that they would be suitable for the labour market demand, adding that the organization has been collaborating with the State Government to provide training to the selected twelve thousand youths across the selected 8 Higher Institutions in the State.
Meanwhile, he explained that the beneficiary youths have been engaged in four critical areas, which include; Entrepreneurship, Work readiness tools, Soft Skills and Market Aligned courses.
While giving credits to his predecessor in Office, Mr Obafela Bank Olemoh for taking the State further in technology – innovations and development, Barrister Wahab explained that the present administration of Governor Sanwo Olu had widened the scope of the projects which made it possible for more people to benefit from them.
On the Eko Digital initiative, Wahab explained that the State Government in partnership with Advent Management Solutions & Loftyinc Allied Partners is leveraging on ICT to train and equip young students and pupils in Lagos Government owned Primary and High Schools with the requisite knowledge, skills and technical Know-how that would enable them to thrive in the technology space in a couple of years.
‘Eko Digital is a programme designed to benefit the students and pupils in Lagos State with the right coding and technology skills that will enable them to compete successfully with their counterparts from any part of the world’’ he stated.
According to him, the consultants are currently collaborating with the State Government to train students/ pupils in 720 schools across the State in the areas of Computer Basics, Scratch, Use of the internet, Cloud services, Worldwide Web designs among other computer programming.
Eko Digital initiatives, according to him, would help to curb youths restiveness as it would provide them with the right skills that would enable them to get valuable jobs.
Moreso, the initiative will also equip young people with industry certified skills needed to get instant employment both within and outside the country.
While commending the Governor for taking governance to the next level of technological development, the Special Adviser pledged the commitment of his Office to an efficient implementation of educational policies.