September 3, 2017      21:08

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APPRENTICESHIPS: THE NEW HIGH-POWERED ROUTE TO QUALIFICATION AND EMPLOYMENT


tunji.awonusi's picture
Tunji Awonusi

141

Nigeria’s struggle to create jobs for her teeming unemployed youths is getting worse.

New data published by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) pegs the unemployment/underemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds at 18% and 25% respectively in the last quarter of 2016, up from  the preceding quarter. It’s the ninth consecutive quarter that the unemployment and underemployment rate in Nigeria has increased.

Employment has faltered as businesses struggle amid Nigeria’s first recession in two decades. Those companies dependent on foreign transactions are also suffering due to a critical shortage of foreign exchange.

The government has tried to boost employment, mainly by threatening businesses that cut jobs as well as trying to find work for those who are laid off. Local banks were threatened with a possible withdrawal of their licences for laying off workers without redundancy. Meanwhile, the government has sought to employ as many as possible through a few recruitment exercises.

The latter effort hasn’t made much of a dent as the demand for jobs far outstrips supply. Last November, the federal tax agency received 700,000 applications for 500 advertised positions. In May 2016, nearly a million people applied for 10,000 listed positions in the Nigerian Police Force, some with Ph.D. qualifications.

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) data reflected that 11,703,709 applications were received between 2010 and 2016. In 2010, according to NBS, a total of 1,513,940 applications were received while 423,531 students were admitted, which translated to 28% of applicants receiving admission.

Most of these young people feel their government and schools have failed to adequately prepare them for work after school, leading to so many graduates needing to be retrained to take up places in the work place. Whether you're looking for your first role or are already in underemployment position, apprenticeships give you the chance to do just that. They enable you to enter or stay in the world of work, earn a decent wage and learn new skills. An apprenticeship will offer you amazing opportunities to shine in a job you enjoy.

Apprenticeships mix on-the-job training with classroom learning. They provide you with the skills you need for your chosen career that will also lead to nationally recognised qualifications. As an apprentice you earn while you learn and receive other benefits as well. Apprenticeships are real jobs for real people.

You've got to be a certain type of individual to not only succeed at working with people, but to truly enjoy it each and every day. Often, you'll be the individual that people look forward to seeing each day; the person to take care, provide help and offer advice to those that need it. So if you are up for it, you can take on apprenticeships in beauty therapy, hair styling/dressing/cutting, manicure/pedicure, gele tying, spa therapy, funeral services, live events and stage assembling, plumbing,  refrigeration and air-conditioning, automotive management and leadership, chef, cabin crew, etc.

The apprenticeship policy should give young people a ladder of opportunity, provide employers with high quality apprentices and deliver real benefits to the economy. The government should set up an apprenticeship institute, just like they have in the United Kingdom, that will ensure that apprenticeships are even more closely tailored to the needs of employers. The focus should be less on how many apprenticeships are created and more on which sector needs them to improve the country’s productivity.

How do we fund it?

While it will be nice to craft our own policies to suit our own peculiar needs, I still think there is no need to reinvent the wheel as we can copy the United Kingdom’s apprenticeship plan, which I will reproduce below, as a guide for now:

 April 2017, the government introduced a new levy on company payrolls that will help double government spending on apprentices and it aims to raise £2.5 billion.

Under the scheme, businesses will be able to use vouchers from the levy to pay for apprenticeships.

From next April, firms will pay into the apprenticeship levy a new tax based on the number of people on their payroll in England. And from May they will be able to draw down vouchers from the levy to fund apprenticeships.

Companies bidding for government contracts worth more than £10m must show they have a ‘reasonable proportion’ of apprentices.

Nigerian universities should see this as an opportunity to develop pilot schemes in conjunction with industry. These schemes provide the opportunity to demonstrate the value of both apprenticeships and degree education to employers. This can in turn be measured by the productivity and retention rates of apprentices and provide insight into how best to use the levy for employers. It can also help develop the relationship between our institutions of higher learning and employers.

Parents should be a focus of activity; they need to see apprenticeships as an option for their children. Rather than see it as a low-pay route, they should view it as a long-term development of the skills gap in our society.

 


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