Although living in Lagos State is challenging for a lot of people because of the comparative high cost of housing, transportation and other living expenses, it remains where every Nigerians want to reside due to abundance of opportunities and pace of development in the State. It is where many see hope in the midst of deep rooted unemployment situations in the country.
Lagos is exceptional in its provision of the legal and much of the physical and social infrastructures on which private production and commerce thrive. Of course the current administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had from the onset “focus like a laser beam” on improving the state economy and establishing his administration’s capacity to work and end with AA+ grade.
Rather than lamenting and giving excuses, Ambode challenged failure to a duel by given top priority to wealth creation and poverty eradication. No doubt, the influx of people from other States into Lagos impacted on unemployment rate in the State.
For this reason, one of the very first tasks performed by Governor Ambode upon his inauguration was the creation of a Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment with the sole aim of solving the unemployment quandary in the state. Three years down the line, the soundness of the creation is unquestionable going by account of the achievements of the Ministry has reeled out by the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Pharm. (Mrs) Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf on May 10, 2018.
Arrowheads of the job creation initiatives of the Ambode administration undoubtedly is the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (“LSETF” or “the Fund”), established by The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Law 2016 to provide financial support to residents of Lagos State, for job, wealth creation and to tackle unemployment. LSETF serves as an instrument to inspire the creative and innovative energies of all Lagos residents and reduce unemployment across the State. The Fund has the mandate to directly invest ₦25Billion in helping Lagos residents grow and scale their Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (“MSMEs”) or acquire skills to get better jobs.
The Fund has now disbursed N5.22 billion loan to 6, 462 beneficiaries of its entrepreneurial scheme in fulfillment of one of the pivotal promises of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment. Through the loan programmes, additional 8,797 new taxpayers have been added to the Lagos State tax register. .
In addition to the loan scheme, LSETF’s Employability Programme is currently equipping thousands of unemployed youths with the skills that would makes them globally competitive and employable. The target is to train 10,000 unemployed youths through vocational trainings that would prepare them for employments in the construction, manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, and hospitality and tourism industries. The Fund will thereafter help the trainees to secure job placements opportunities within the identified industries. The United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) has thrown its weight behind this programme through the Lagos State Employability Support Project, which plans to increase the pool of skilled manpower to alleviate the acute shortages of employable labour in Lagos State.
An important segment of the job and wealth creation programmes is the planned Mindset Re-orientation programme for 2,000 unemployed youths in the State. The training will include, Employability skills Training, Career counseling, effective CV writing, developing effective interview skills and Job Hunting Strategy for the invited interns and job fair. This will go a long way in making mass of unemployable youth to be employable and secure job.
Besides the graduates, the government also recognizes the potential role of the artisans in wealth creation. Under the Tradesmen and Artisans Capacity Building Scheme of the administration, 1000 Artisans were re-trained last year (2017) in collaboration with the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB). The Capacity Building Scheme was to equip the participants with technical and entrepreneurial skills with a view to enhancing their efficiency, competitiveness and productivity. It was held for eight weekends across the State in 5 centres, Ado-soba, Agidingbi, Epe, Ikotun and Ikorodu. In addition, 40 members of Lagos State House Painter Association were trained and engaged by KANSAIPLASCON Nigeria a paint manufacturer.
The government also recognizes that the emergence of new technologies has created an opportunity to address the needs of society to attain sustainable growth and development. For this, the government, through the collaboration of Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, other MDAs, IBILE Holdings and other relevant Stakeholders would be establishing an ICT hub in Yaba. In same vein, the administration collaborated with Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (JHU-SAIS) to explore opportunities in the area of youth entrepreneurship and technological innovation in Lagos State. The partnership focused on convening a forum to give Techpreneurs opportunity to pitch to an audience that would include but not limited to venture capitalists, industry experts, US based Techpreneurs and academia. The collaboration was aimed at leveraging on work JHU-SAIS is doing as regards Sub Saharan Africa in the area of youth entrepreneurship and technology and bridge the divide across tech ecosystem.
Riding on a series of engagements with JHU-SAIS, Microsoft, General Electric, Covington and Radius Network among others, an ICT summit was held from 23rd to 26th April, 2018 in Washington DC. Lagos State Government sponsored the participation of 15 (fifteen) Lagos based Techpreneurs and Start-ups at the event.
The Graduate Internship programme of the State is designed to expose interns to particular jobs, profession or industry. It is an avenue for creating a network contact between the Off-takers and the interns in order to improve and enhance their formal education, acquired knowledge and skills with first-hand workplace skills and experience (teamwork, initiative, analytical thinking and communication). In Y2017,One Thousand Eight Hundred (1800) candidates were screened. A total number of (910) were deployed to various private organizations and (460) interns were confirmed and accepted for the GIP. Out of those confirmed,(36) Thirty-six were given (3) months extension for possible employment based on their performance during these period.Cars45 retained (4) interns on full time. Illumina Heritage also employed one of the Interns and ChiscoTransport extended internship of one (1) for possible employment. Mainone extended the internship period of (4) interns to (12) months.
The administration launched Innovation-Driven Enterprise Program tagged “Lagos Innovates” in December 2017. Lagos Innovates is a series of programs designed for the benefit of technology – and innovation-driven startups in Lagos State. By providing access to high quality infrastructure, learning, capital and networks, Lagos Innovates will cement Lagos’ position as the leading destination for startups in Africa. So far, government has awarded first set of workspace vouchers to 23 beneficiaries, and first hub loan of N40million to Leadspace, a shared infrastructure solution company that provides office amenities to entrepreneurs, founders, freelancers, startups, SMEs and content creators in Yaba and Ojodu. Leadpace will use the funds to open an additional workspace facility in Tejuosho, Yaba with a capacity of 474 work desks and 26 outdoor seats.
It is expected that with improved security, regular power supply as well as availability of other necessary infrastructure, the full economic potential of Lagos would be unleashed to the benefit of not only Nigeria but the African continent. Businesses and industries would flourish even more because the wealth creation programmes of Lagos State are trainee-centred, service-oriented and results-based.
Musbau is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information & strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.