The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is becoming alarming to both the youths and the government. Nigeria’s population is dominated by able-bodied youths and the country’s tertiary institutions are churning out graduates into the labour market year in, year out. Thus, without a corresponding means of absorbing these graduates, the government is left in a fix.
Providing reasonable means of livelihood for these youths is the only way through which the government could avert anarchy into the land because it is said that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. When the youth are idle, criminality takes the centre stage in society.
In a bit to avert the aforementioned, the Federal Government, through the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, introduced a scheme tagged: Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED, for fresh graduates to be self-sufficient.
The initiative is targeted at young Nigerian graduates who are mobilized for the one-year mandatory service. SAED helps graduates in exploring options of becoming self-reliable and means of adding value to themselves.
Introduced in 2012, the initiative is aimed at mobilizing 200,000 young graduates for skill acquisition annually and facilitating the training and mentoring of 100,000 young graduates in skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development for self-reliance annually.
Thus, SAED has trained over 500,000 corps members in various skills and enterprises. Just last year, over 1,600 beneficiaries of the program have become full-time entrepreneurs, managing businesses with varying degrees of success across the country.
Just like we have several departments in the university, SAED is another department under NYSC, which is made of two divisions namely: Skills Acquisition Development Division and Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Division.
The skills acquisition training is a compulsory 10-day program that takes place during corps members’ orientation course at the NYSC camps. Corps members are given the opportunity to choose a skill of their choice from the various skills available. These skills include: ICT, tailoring, makeup and cosmetology, hairdressing, photography, bead making, catering, soap making, plumbing, customizing of clothes and many more. Interested corps members who choose to continue the training after the orientation course would have to pay a little amount which is subsidized by the government.
On June 28, 2022, the Chairperson of the NYSC Governing Board, Fatima Abubakar, who was on a facility tour of the Rivers NYSC Orientation Camp, advised corps members to embrace the SAED program in order to enhance their lives.
According to her, the program was designed to teach them different skills and trades, as well as enable them to obtain loans after their service. Mrs Abubakar said: “You are given the opportunity to learn different trades so that if you don’t get white-collar jobs, you engage yourself on the skills learnt during your service year to better your lives.”
Mrs Abubakar’s advice is instructive considering that many youths nowadays would prefer to have a certificate of education, rather than acquire a skill.
Little wonder, the number of graduates that tuned entrepreneurs through SAED is however not encouraging, considering that the program was introduced to tackle unemployment. The number should have been double of what is currently available.
These youths should try as quickly as possible to realize that the government cannot continue to provide every graduate with a job. It is time they start looking out for themselves.
Many corps members find it hard to survive after the one-year national service, especially after dissipating their energies looking for scarcely unavailable While Collar jobs. For this reason, corps members are advised to give this SAED a trial in case something lucrative doesn’t come at the end of their service year.
I want to also advise the NYSC management to consider extending the program beyond the 10-day timeline within the camp. I believe that once it is extended, the number of participants will increase and the corresponding passion for pursuing the enterprise could snowball.
For instance, the fact only interested corps members could register and pursue the training outside the orientation camp is an impediment on the success of the program, because most corps members would not turn up after their orientation because would not have the money to pay. In this case, subsidizing the program further would do the magic.
Halimat Shittu is NYSC member serving in Abuja