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By NBF News

For years, Dupe John-Alade had roamed Lagos streets in search of a job. Having graduated from the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Noforija, Epe, Lagos in 2007, the young lady thought she would find a job as a teacher with one of the numerous public or private primary schools in the state.

She got a job with a primary school at Onipanu, but that did not last. She was forced to quit when she could no longer manage her poor salary which, in her own words, could not conveniently transport her to and from work from her house at Owode-Elede in Mile 12 area.

'It was better for me to know I was jobless than to keep deceiving myself that I was employed even when I wasn't making a kobo as profit at the end of the month,' Dupe told the reporter.

A friend eventually told Dupe of the existence of skills acquisition centres located in different areas of the state. She quickly embraced the idea and got herself registered at the Eredo centre in Epe where she was tutored in hair dressing and allied subjects. Today, she has become an expert in hair plaiting, weaving, braiding, manicure and pedicure, among others. And she makes enough money to cater to her needs as well as support her younger siblings.

'I thank God for the advice I got from my friend to try the skills acquisition centre,' Dupe informed. 'Today, it has given me an opportunity to stand on my own. Instead of combing the streets looking for job, I now have my own job and I'm even training others.'

Dupe's case is one example of the efforts of the current administration in Lagos State to drastically reduce the spate of unemployment through helping Lagos residents acquire meaningful skills. The lady said she would always remain grateful to the state government under Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola for giving people like her a new hope.

'I am not the usual, common hair dresser; I am an educated businesswoman and I'm proud of what I do. I've been able to open two more salons in notable areas of the metropolis and because I'm learned, my clientele includes the young and upwardly mobile ladies. What this government has done is to empower a brand new generation of future entrepreneurs. The programme is free of charge and you can benefit irrespective of where you come from or which party you support.'

Jossy Adisa Akolade, an indigene of Oyo State, obtained a bachelor's degree in the Social Sciences from a federal university in the South West. After his mandatory youth service in 2008, he had been in the labour market, and the prospects were hardly auspicious. He needed little encouragement before opting for the state skill acquisition programme where he registered for a course in Catering and Hotel Management. Today, he already has an idea of what the future holds for him.

'My plan is to set up a bakery business as soon as possible. Financing the project wouldn't be a problem, as the government would make working capital available. It has always been my dream to go into the production of bread. Even if I had gotten a job anywhere, I would still have quit the job later as I had always been in love with bread production. I'm happy that instead of getting a job and remaining an employee for the rest of my life, I will soon become an employer, paying salaries to my workers. I only hope that other states in the country would soon see the benefits of these programmes and initiate such in their states,' he said.

Indeed, in the area of vocational training, many would willingly give a thumbs-up to the Fashola administration. Though you would hardly credit him for introducing the concept in the state, the Lagos helmsman has performed creditably in developing the process, making it attractive to young and old graduates and indeed, thousands of hitherto unemployed youths.

Before he mounted the saddle as Lagos State governor in 2007, the state could boast of just three functional skill acquisition centres. Before the end of last year, however, the number had risen to 17 in different parts of the state.

Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and Fashola's running mate in next week's elections, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefilure, asserts that Fashola's administration is passionate about the centres, saying the administration is bent on tackling the menace of impoverishment and unemployment in the state. 'The skill acquisition centres are designed specifically for unemployed youths and different categories of women. These are single parents, widows, grassroots women and women living with HIV/AIDS. The vision is in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.'

Since 2007, no fewer than 13, 000 Lagos residents are believed to have benefited from the skill acquisition programme, mostly in the areas of fashion design, textile design, hair dressing, welding and fabrication, aluminium fabrication, mat weaving, catering and hotel management, tie and dye, bead making and printing technology.

'The administration has been fighting poverty through regular organisation of short-term and long-term skill acquisition programmes in different parts of the state to enable people acquire the required skills for self-reliance,' she says. 'We do not just help develop human vocation; we also support those who have gone through our courses.'

The regular skill acquisition programme also includes a three-week entrepreneurial training to empower participants with basic knowledge of management required for the smooth operation of their businesses whenever they are set for take-off. Besides that, the state government also organises various short-term vocational training programmes for both men and women. According to a report published by the state government last year, more than 35, 000 women received training under the state's various short-term programmes between 2007 and 2008. In 2009, the figure was put at over 60, 000, comprising women and men who were tutored in different vocations.

And to ensure that funding isn't an issue for the graduates, the state government established the Lagos State Microfinance Institution (LASMI). 'That is the institution that coordinates and disburses loans to them through the approved microfinance banks,' Adefulire explains.

But apart from training young people and granting them access to credit to enable them start their own businesses, the state government has also created a database for successful graduates. Governor Fashola said recently that the database would enable them establish their location as well as relate with one another with the publication of the Lagos State Business Directory. 'The decision to site skill acquisition centres in different parts of the state was part of our resolve to encourage young people to acquire vocational skills and create an avenue to make money and sustain themselves,' he said. 'The 93, 000 pieces of costumes used during the 2010 Lagos Carnival is proof of the success of the programme, as they were produced locally.'

The governor is, however, unimpressed with the recent decision by the federal government to allow importation of vehicles not older than 15 years as well as furniture, toothpick and textiles into the country. To him, the move is an economic tragedy. While noting that the frenzy of importation has killed the local economy, leading to a high rate of unemployment, Fashola advised President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly reverse the policy.

'We need to improve the local productive capacity of our people and reduce dependence on import and its attraction. That is what encouraged our administration to develop skill acquisition centres,' he said.

Your Comment

Clement L. | 1/21/2014 11:02:00 PM
This is highly commendable & efforts should be made to agressively publicize these centres to the populace, as a lot of persons that could benefit are still grossly unaware of such ventures. Kudos to the administrative team.
Obahor Odafe Richard | 10/7/2014 7:10:00 PM
Please I'm interested in this skill acquisition centers in Lagos. Please can I get the locations of the centers so I can find the one close to me. Thank you.
EDO-WILLIAMS ABRAHAM | 10/15/2014 4:07:00 AM
Pls am interested in the area of catering and hotel management.i reside in badagry how do i know the venue.thanks
abimbola | 1/22/2015 12:46:00 PM
how long will it take me to undergo the computer studies
Mrs Oladeinde | 3/5/2015 1:34:00 PM
Please can any body help me with the list of the centers and addresses? I want to know the one close to my residence for enrollment.
juliet micheal | 4/16/2015 12:44:00 PM
Please am interested in the area of can I get the locations please.
saraki ipaye | 4/21/2015 5:06:00 PM
Can u pls tell me were I can get d one close to my house in onipan,am interested in fashion design here is my no 08178521859,pls am really interested I need it fast
tosin | 5/28/2015 2:42:00 PM
can u tell tell me were i can get d one close to my house in abule egba i'm interested in catering here is my 07033791039 pls i need it fast
soji | 7/11/2015 12:11:00 AM
Pls can anyone tell me where I can get the one closer to anthony here is my number 08169687849
Michael odunmbaku | 10/22/2015 10:03:00 AM
Please i need customer service number because association are disturbing me. 08179028839
victory umoh | 1/6/2016 3:53:00 PM
pls can i get d location address of egbeda campus am interested in fashion design and dress making here is my number 09030684212 thank u
sheri ogbonna | 3/11/2016 3:24:00 PM
How can one become a catering instructor in one of the acquisition centre
okpara chinwendu | 10/2/2016 9:27:00 AM
Pls I am interested in this skill acquisition how can I get a location?
Ogochukwu Nwaikwu | 12/11/2016 1:02:00 PM
please i am interested in fashion designing and would want to know the centres close to festac town.Here is my number 08081275016