BISI Onasanya, group managing director, GMD, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, is worried over the spate of youth unemployment in the country. That is why he is stressing the need for re-training and revamping of the education sector to curb the problem of youth unemployment.
Onasanya had said in his address on Tuesday, September 29 in Lagos, at the First Bank African CEO Business Roundtable, on “Youth, skills training and unemployment in a changing economy,” that a central challenge that must be met “if our current democratic experiment is to succeed is the one where private sector participants contribute to the elaboration of solutions to problems across sectors.” He said, “Whichever way we look at it, youth unemployment is a major domestic worry. The numbers that matter as at end the second quarter of 2015, are: A labour force of 74 million of a working age population of 103.5 million; 19.6 million of the 74 million were either unemployed or underemployed as of June 2015; 48.7 per cent of our compatriots in the labour force aged between 15 and 24 were either unemployed or underemployed in the same period.”
He said there had been much talk of a misalignment between the skills with which the youths leave their various institutions of higher learning, and the skills required by employers of labour. “Now as an employer of labour, I readily identify with this dilemma. The question, however, that then arises, is this: how do we close this gap? On the one hand, this is a problem arising from a failure in how we impart knowledge to the youth. Conversely, it is solvable only by re-training.”
“But if urban blight is a major worry, why should anyone push policies that have most of our youths heading for the cities? First, because we do well to have our youths organised in clusters where we may best leverage their innovativeness; second, because the urban blight is but a failure of organisation at the national and municipal levels,” Onasanya said.
It is not only Onasanya who is worried. Other stakeholders in the banking industry at large, are agreed that attention should be paid to youth unemployment.
Pai Obanya, an Emeritus Professor, Institute of Education, University of Ibadan, said, “Educational institutions need to reinvent themselves. Universities must now be involved in responsive social engagement – responding to the demands of society and feeding this into their work.”
He stressed the need for good politics, which he said would lead to good policies, good programmes, good practices and good products. “There has to be specific, conscious policies towards youth empowerment. A policy development is a process that is participatory, not just a pronouncement,” Obanya said.
— Oct 12, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT