The Lagos State Government has revealed that its job initiatives designed for final year students and those in penultimate classes, as well as the Eko Digital Skills programme were aimed at equipping students with essential skills to make them and their services essential in the labour market.

Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Education, Barrister Tokunbo Wahab, who disclosed this at the Secretariat, Alausa, while briefing the press about the activities of his office, noted that the innovations are part of the State Government’s efforts at reducing the unemployment rate in the State.

He explained that the Eko job initiative is fast yielding positive results as graduates are getting better employment offers due to their exposure to various capacity building and skills development programmes.

According to him, the jobs initiative programme of the State Government is aimed at preparing final year and penultimate students of tertiary institutions for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour by equipping them with market aligned knowledge, soft skills, business tools and the mindset reorientation in the world of work.

The Special Adviser pointed out that the present administration is worried by the growing rate of unemployment in the country and came up with the initiatives to help youths develop their skills and break the barriers standing between them and job opportunities.

He said statistics had revealed that in the third quarter of the year 2017, more than half of Nigeria’s population of about 185 million were under 30 with youth unemployment standing at 33.10 per cent.

While regretting that a large number of graduates turned out yearly by the Nation’s institutions of higher learning lacked employability skills, Wahab explained that the need to bridge the unemployment gap and its attendant consequences was one of the reasons why the State Government enhanced building capacity and committed resources to skills acquisition and vocational development.

“Lack of employability skills exacerbates Nigeria’s unemployment problem. Not a few employers have complained about the skills mismatch in the employment market; they lament that graduates of our Institutions of higher learning come out lacking both technical and soft skills to fit into the workplace”, he stated

Continuing, the Special Adviser explained that the Lagos State Government, having realised this gap, sought the collaboration of the private sector to work with the Office of the Special Adviser on Education to develop a programme that would bridge the gap and empower its teeming young population, thereby, prepare them ahead for workplace challenges.

He said Loftylnc Allied Partners Limited (LAPL) was considered most suitable among the private consulting firms that showed interest to work with the State Government in building youths capacity, such that they would be suitable for the labour market demand, disclosing that the organisation had collaborated with the State Government to provide training to 12,000 youths across the selected eight Higher Institutions in the State.

He explained that the beneficiary youths have been engaged in four critical areas, which include Entrepreneurship, Work readiness tools, Soft Skills and Market Aligned courses.

While giving credit to his predecessor in Office, Mr. Obafela Bank Olemoh, for taking the State further in technology innovations and development, Wahab stated that the present administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has widened the scope of the projects which made it possible for more people to benefit from them.

On the Eko Digital initiative, Wahab explained that the State Government, in partnership with Advent Management Solutions & Loftyinc Allied Partners, is leveraging on ICT to train and equip young students and pupils in Lagos Government-owned Primary and High Schools with the requisite knowledge, skills and technical know-how that would enable them thrive in the technology space in a couple of years.

The Special Adviser commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for taking governance to the next level of technological development and pledged the commitment of his Office to an efficient implementation of the sustainable educational policies that will make the State rank among the best in the world of information technology.

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