Senator Promotes Youth’s Skill Acquisition Programmes

By Babatunde Adegunju

Untill adequate skill acquisition programmes for youths compliment the Federal Government's efforts in the area of unemployment, there may not be an end to the different kinds of nefarious acts which has hampered the image of the country due to the high rate of unemployment youths in the country.

Empowering youths is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. Many local, state, provincial, regional, national, and international government agencies and nonprofit community-based organizations provide programmes centered on youth empowerment. Activities involved therein may focus on what the youth in those regions are interested in or have flare for.

But for the lawmaker representing Lagos East senatorial district, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, he knows his constituency too well, as a result of this, he has embarked on series of programmes for the youths of his constituents. One of such programmes which has become a household name in Lagos State and beyond is the Youth Energy Career Program (YECP), which was executed in collaboration with Lagos State Electricity Board and Siemens.

Back then in April 2012, when the YECP was flagged off as the first of its kind in Nigeria for the first 15participants across the district, the lawmaker stressed the rationale behind the program, “It is a known fact that one of the major challenges facing our country in its journey towards sustainable development and meaningful growth, is inadequate power supply. This challenge has become a hydra-headed monster drawing us many steps backward on every attempt to make a step forward. We have, for a long time be indecisive on this issue that other nations almost consider us unserious as a people. Should we then continue to fold our arms and look-on while events in the global village run by? I think not! Critical among factors often pointed to, as the bane of efficiency in our electricity generation phase is the dearth of expertise. With this, the “local content policy” of the Federal Government has not been allowed to take its full fledge in the power sector” he stated

Ashafa, an apostle of youth empowerment stated further “in recognition of this all important factor, the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and its implementation agency- Lagos State Electricity Board, in Partnership with my humble self and Siemens Power Academy; have developed the Youth Energy Career Program” he said.

It is pertinent therefore to state here that the first phase which ended last year's October (2012) was a success, and it will be interesting to also state here that all the 15 graduates have been engaged in one way or the other, among them are Miss Dolapo Popoola, she is now a staff of Lagos State Electricity Board, Mr Adekolapo Adeside, working with Ecosolar International company, Mrs Funmilayo Richard, working with Estymol Oil (OANDO), Mr Gbolagade Kazeem, now with Lagos State Electricity Board and Mr Adetola Adeniyi, now with Estymol Oil (OANDO) among others. The lawmaker also added that the second batch of the programme will soon commence due to its wide acceptability.

Besides the YECP, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has also initiated another laudable youth empowerment programme for graduate youths that are interested in a professional Technical and Vocational training, tagged: “Youth Technical and Vocational Training”, this was borne out of the promise to deepen capacity building and encourage skill acquisition in Lagos East Senatorial District.

The 6 month training programme which is in collaboration with the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) is aimed at preparing participants for a life long learning and participation in the skilled workforce.

This in turn facilitates poverty alleviation and integrates the youth in to the labour market with competitive technical skills to be their own boss and not to rely on the white-collar job that is visibly absent.

While speaking on the initiative recently at his constituency office in Ikosi-Ketu, the energetic lawmaker stated that it is high time the country focused on technical and vocational skills in order to curb the menace of unemployment in the country and “one of the best way to do this is to encourage skill acquisition programmes for our youths, the level of unemployment in the country is really frightening, the amount of CVs of graduates submitted on daily basis at my constituency office for the purpose of employment is really alarming, I believe if most youths can engage themselves in skill acquisition programmes, it will really serve as a better option to curbing the problem of unemployment in the country, that is why am partnering with the Lagos state Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) to encourage our youths in building their skills in their area of interest”. He said

According to the lawmaker, the programme is aimed to instill in the youths the necessary skills needed to compete with their counterparts across the globe, he mentioned for example that “there are several buildings built today in Nigeria that most of the workers there are expatriates, many builders do not believe in Nigerian engineers any more, this and more are the impressions we are meant to correct in order to make Nigeria a better place”. He said.

Among the several courses that are meant to be taught during the six month training include: Plumbing and Pipe fitting, Block laying and concreting, Electrical Installation works and maintenance, painting and Decorating and Carpentry etc.

From Babatunde Adegunju