Thursday, 11 September 2014

3 MILLION JOBS IN 12 MONTHS: NIGERIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SETS UP A PRESIDENTIAL JOB BOARD



 
Another attempt among many to deal with the increasing rate of unemployment and its consequences in Nigeria has prompted the Federal government to set up a Presidential Job Board yesterday, September 10, 2014. The actual reason for this new development could be deduced from the comment of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which reads:


This means that the Presidential Job Board is created to find and bridge the missing link between “training people to acquire skills and job creation”. 

The President also observed that, “…over a period (now), agencies of government are more interested in training”, and hence the need to redirect effort towards creating jobs for the unemployed. 

When I read the article bearing this information from a number of articles in the ThisDay Newspaper online publications, Thursday, September 11, 2014, so many thoughts came to my mind, and I really want to share some with you. I urge you to make comments and share your personal views and opinions on this new attempt by the Federal Government of Nigeria to create 3 million jobs in 12 months for the growing population of the unemployed (and maybe, the underemployed too) in the country.

Where to Start
Do you think setting up a Presidential Job Board will actually bridge the gulf between job trainings and job creation without any attempt to address the fundamental problems with the job training programmes being initiated and administered by the government and its departments and agencies across the country? I doubt! From all indications, the job training programmes are not founded on sound National Policy Frameworks. They are mainly “reactive interventions” and therefore, they cannot create actual jobs or provide opportunities for job creation. From my keen observation, SMEDAN, ITF, PTDF, NDE, SURE-P, NIMASA, Women Affairs and many others are fragmented and isolated interventions and, thus, lack the capacity to create productive and decent works for the unemployed in the country.

Any effort by the Federal Government (including the State and Local Governments) to sincerely address the situation of unemployment in the country is prerequisite on the development of a National Employment Policy Framework. This must involve a sustained, determined and concerted action by a wide range of actors. Job creation, being a cross-cutting and high-priority issue should be addressed within the framework of an interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral, and multi-stakeholder approach. Without a National Employment Policy Framework, it would be difficult to check the grow unemployment in the country.

Where Will the Jobs Come From?
“3 Million jobs in 12 months”, that is the goal of the newly inaugurated Presidential Job Board. And I critically want to know where the jobs would come from. That, I think, is a question you would like to get an answer for too. 

Where do you think such jobs will come from? Well, if we don’t care about the quality and decency of the jobs, the SURE-P approach, where unemployed Nigerians are being recruited as sweepers of “streets”, “forced” apprentices in some companies and organizations and local farmers, etc, may be the answer. But I don’t think the individuals that constitute the Presidential Job Board would want to adopt that approach. And if they wish to hear me, the only and sure place to look at is the firm. 

It is evident from researches across the globe that all net job creation, in any economy, occur in firms. Without firms, especially start-ups, net job creation for the economy would be negative. It is clear that new and young companies and the entrepreneurs that created them are the engines of job creation and eventually economic growth.

Mostly all debates and discussions on employment point to the fact that “small businesses” account for half of the labour force and are therefore the key to future generation of jobs. This should occupy the attention of the federal government, its policymakers and the members of the Job Board, and perhaps provide some cause for optimism amidst the continuing gloom about job creation in the country.

However, to adopt the “Firm” approach, the Federal Government and the Presidential Job Board need to develop a National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework.

This National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework will address the following:
  1. Ease of business entry and exit,
  2. Exposure to entrepreneurship through education,
  3. Positive supportive climate and infrastructure for entrepreneurship at state and local level,
  4. Government support for entrepreneurs,
  5. Availability of capital needed to start and grow new firms,
  6. Fiscal regime,
  7. Public sector procurement,
  8. Knowledge transfer policy,
  9. Entrepreneurial networks, and entrepreneurial advocates,
  10. Labour market regulation,
  11. Public sector R&D,
  12. Public physical infrastructure,
  13. Intellectual property legislation, and
  14. The general educational system (attainment levels, nature of curriculum, subjects studied, method of teaching etc.).
Attention also should be given to the sectoral distribution of companies in the country. A situation where only few economic sectors are considered above others should be discouraged. The Federal Government and the Presidential Job Board should focus on all the sectors of the economy and not only on the Petroleum and Agricultural sectors.

In conclusion, I would like to state that the goal of 3 million jobs in 12 month is unrealizable considering the absence of a National Employment Policy Framework and a comprehensive National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework. The cart must be behind the horse to ensure a safe and exciting journey through any paths. 

I appreciate the effort of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the entire members of the Presidential Job Board. I wish them success in their work. And I would not mind, if called upon to contribute my “QUOTA”.

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