Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday identified skills acquisition as a sure pathway to economic prosperity and personal development of the burgeoning youths in the State, saying his administration will continue to support initiatives towards that drive.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the graduation ceremony/job fair of the first set of trainees from the Lagos State Employability Project (LSESP) held in Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, said the graduation of 540 graduants was one of the primary goals of the Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) set up by his administration two years ago to address the issue of unemployment among youths.
He expressed excitement that while many residents and entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the fund, the LSESP was providing a viable platform to bridge the gap of shortage of skilled and employable labour required to fill the needs of the job market and also provide 10,000 new jobs for youths by 2019.
“While the business ecosystem in the State has improved over the years, a manpower skills gap remains a significant issue for businesses operating in Lagos. Several firms and industries across the country are unable to find graduates and non graduates with requisite skills to fill key positions. Paradoxically, there are thousands of unemployed youths out there desperate to find a job, any job,” the Governor said.
Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, said through the successful graduation of the 540 trainees, his administration was laying the necessary foundations for steady and sustainable economic growth in Lagos State.
He said each of the graduates would be awarded a certificate endorsed by both the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) and the Australian Vocational training and Employment Group (AVTEG), which according to him, would affirm them as globally competitive and employable.
“The Employability Support Project will continue to support these young men and women through job placement initiatives. With twin aims of capacity building for Lagos State youths and the provision of employment opportunities for them, the project aims to provide 10,000 new jobs by 2019,” he said.
Governor Ambode also said that the project was a testament to the successful collaboration between the LSETF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in strengthening the human capital potential of Lagos youths and expand their employment opportunities to contribute their quota to the growth and development of the State.
Congratulating the graduants, Governor Ambode said the task ahead of them is to utilize their skills and the opportunities to go all out to become productive citizens.
“The State has done its part and kept its pledge to provide a safety net to any Lagos resident who needs a helping hand. It is now up to you to go forth and capitalize on the assistance you have received,” he said.
Besides, the Governor urged other well meaning institutions and organisations to join the league of private firms who have keyed into the project as partners to harness the creative energies of teeming youths in the State to become productive, self-reliant and proud contributors to the growth of the economy.
In her welcome address, Chairman of the LSETF, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru said the Employability Project was the result of a partnership between the LSETF and the UNDP to improve the technical and vocational training outcomes in the State with an aim to increase employment opportunities for young people in Lagos.
“This event is a culmination of a journey that started in November 2016 resulting in the signing of an MOU with the UNDP in May 2017. UNDP provided LSETF a grant of $1million to complement the Fund’s contribution of $3million towards an employability project in Lagos State,” she said.
She commended private companies including Dangote Group, Construction Kaizer, Samsung, Crown Nature Plc, Whispering Palms, Farenheit Hospitality, X3M group and Summit Chanrai Group who participated, adding that since the application process opened in December 2017, over 13,000 applications were received across six sectors including Garment Making, Hospitality, Construction, among others.
She also disclosed that 20 per cent of the graduates have already received job offers from employers, while efforts are ongoing to match the remaining graduates with other supporting firms.
Okauru, however, seized the occasion to call on Nigerians, the organized private sector, multi-lateral organisations, non-governmental organisations to join the quest by the State Government to expand employment opportunities in the State across all sectors of the economy.
The highpoint of the event was the announcement of immediate employment and presentation of letters to over 150 graduates of the project by some of the participating private firms, while commitments for over 600 more jobs were made by Chief Executives of various private organizations.