Ministry of Labour and Employment advancing in the fight against unemployment

Ministry of Labour and Employment advancing in the fight against unemployment
July 20 19:55 2016

By Udoh Imaobong

Unemployment can be described as a situation where a person who is of a working age and is active, is not able to get a job after several efforts of searching. It is a situation where labour is idle, not being utilized, instead of being engaged in productive activity.

The unemployment rate in Nigeria has doubled in digits due to the economic down turn the country is currently experiencing. It remains a fundamental problem the nation has to contend with.

Despite the human and natural resources the country is blessed with, years of negligence and under-utilization of these resources have degenerated to this economic recession, the present day reality and a bitter pill to swallow.

The international labour organization indicates that 40 percent of jobless persons worldwide are youths, who spend their youthful years searching for non-existing jobs (ILO 2012)

This threatening socio-economic indices are so frightening and are indeed worrisome.

The thought of young graduates taking their turns to queue in the labour markets for jobs that do not exist, with about 2 million graduates joining the labour market yearly is enough frustration.

This dwindling economic situation has its resultant effects such as youth restiveness, insecurity, cultism, insurgency, poverty, militancy, corruption and the rest of them.

Unemployment in Nigeria has remained a very hard nut to crack. For decades, previous administrations have made several attempts, introduced measures and policies in curbing this challenge but such measures did not yield much results.

The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari whose core agenda is massive employment generation is determined to take the bull by the horn and tackle this problem headlong.

The change in the nomenclature of the Ministry, from Ministry of Labour and Productivity to Ministry of Labour and Employment defines clearly the critical position that employment occupies in the administration’s agenda. It also saddles us with a much more tasking and challenging job.

The Ministry is diversified in nature and has centres located in each State of the Federation with six zonal offices nationwide. The ministry has  chosen to focus more on employment generation since unemployment has ravaged our country, the emphasis is no longer on Labour issues because such issues are for those who are  employed. The present government has also shown its commitment to job creation through various skills acquisition programmes for the unskilled and the unemployed.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is set to achieve this mission through re-invigorating of the skills acquisition centres, recruited officers are trained in blue and pink colar skills in blue collar skills by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Nwabueze Ngige is very Optimistic that these goals are achievable, hence he has already set the ball rolling, and like he always say, the era of white collar jobs are gone, it is now the era of blue and pink collar jobs, because the government only provides 20% opportunity for white collar job employment.

As the new name suggests, the ministry statutory mandate has expanded in scope, from labour matters, maintenance of industrial peace, promotion of occupational safety and health in work places, enhancing productivity of workers skills development, upgrading, certifications, placement, empowerment of artisans craftsman provision of social justice and implementations of national Labour laws and policies, industrial relations activities and trade union administration to jobs creation.

At present, through the NDE the Ministry has almost 100 Skills Acquisition centres across the country; these centers are expected to train people, ranging from carpentry, welding, tilling, plumbing, fashion design, ICT skills, Mechanic, computer installations, television repairs, painting, bricklaying and the rest.

NDE will certify them at the completion of their trainings and these certificates are equivalent to former City and Guild that are acquired in technical colleges.

There is also the Teacher conversion programme which is part of the social intervention policy of the government, whereby 500,000 graduates from different fields like law, economics, engineering among others will be given ad-hoc training and converted to teaching, and they will be paid while in training. Another measure, the government has put in place to alleviate unemployment is the N5, 000 conditional cash transfer program for the Unemployed.

This is a benchmark and a critical minimum for such people who are untrainable, physically challenged and the elderly who have nobody to care for them

There is also a programme for the market women, where they will be given money to support their businesses. The farmers also have an intervention programme where they will be given land, fertilizer, seedling, and all the implements they require to produce and make proceeds. They will be trained, equipped and empowered.

The jobs created will be short term, medium term and long term and the entrepreneurship programme will be funded by the bank of Industry.

The ministry has further synchronize with the state governments who have skilled acquisition centres, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Ministries, Departments and agencies (MDAs) such as the ministry of Industry, trade and investment, Ministry of Agriculture and rural development, Ministry of Education amongst others and the programmes are fully supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

This partnership has also been extended to countries like the United Arab Emirate where bilateral agreement will soon be perfected in respect of skills export.

Also in the European Union, the ministry has collaborated with the International Organization for migration (IOM) who has established migrant resource centres for easy dissemination of information to intending migrants and to promote gainful employment opportunities

The European Union has also assisted the ministry in upgrading the National Electronic Labour Exchange Portal (NELEX) and established six job centres in Lagos, Asaba Awka, Bauchi, Kaduna and Abuja.

These amongst others are the measures put in place by the Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment to fight this war against unemployment.

When these measures are fully implemented and the youths gainfully employed and empowered, there will certainly be drastic reduction in the rate of youth restiveness, such as crime, prostitution, insurgency, militancy, drug abuse, cultism, corruption, amongst others

 

Udoh Imaobong is an Information Officer at the Press Unit of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.