MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
As the future of work continues to go digital and the Nigerian youth unemployment rate remains at 53.40 per cent, the lack of relevant technological and personal effectiveness skills among the large and rapidly expanding young demographic population has been identified as the bane of the rising unemployment crisis in Nigeria.
Given this dire state of affairs, the need for the country to reappraise the contents and delivery methods of higher education institutions to make these more relevant to emerging industry and technological trends as well as work place job specifications in Nigeria and in the global marketplace, become critical challenges of our country’s development, requiring the urgent and collective attention of Governments and stakeholders in the private sector.
To this end, The Knowledge Exchange Centre (KEC) through its Graduate Advancement Program (GAP) inaugurated in Lagos, its GAP 6, which is the sixth batch of KEC’s tuition free employability up-skilling program designed to equip young Nigerian graduates with relevant, future ready skills, attributes and attitudes to make them employable. This batch comprises 102 lucky graduates selected from a pool of thousands of enthusiastic applicants from different parts of Nigeria, cutting across different disciplines and career interests.
A sizable number of the participants are females chosen in line with the organizers’ gender sensitivity policies in collaboration with the Lagos State Government through the State Ministry of Wealth Creation & Employment.
The programme which came at a time the country is witnessing a massive talent drain in various critical sectors including the digital space is designed to provide a solid foundation for the youths to equip them with the skills and other attributes needed to secure dignified jobs, establish their own businesses and thereafter, employ hundreds of people and thereby provide solutions to one important challenge facing the country.
Addressing the trainees at the event, the Executive Chairman, XL Africa Group, and Founder of the KEC, Charles Nwodo (Jr) said the program was created in 2014 as the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) vehicle of XL Africa Group with the goal of providing a structured and sustainable vehicle to empower young graduates with life-changing, future focused employability skills, with the overall aim of contributing effectively to the reduction of unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria.
Thousands of Nigerians have graduated from the KEC’s GAP network training since the launch of the program in 2014 and a growing alumni network of the program plays an active role in sustaining standards of the program.
Nwodo said there was an urgent need for regular modifications of the elements of the country’s educational policies by facilitating cooperation and functional coordination between those responsible for curriculum development and education planning on one side and the organized private sector and employers of labor on the other. “The government has the responsibility to drive this effort and the institutions of higher learning and the various lawmaking organs of government must be involved in the cooperative efforts to ensure that our young graduates receive relevant skills and contemporary trainings and academic tutorials in the various higher and mid level institutions across Nigeria.”
According to Nwodo, “it is grossly unfair to offer subjects and trainings that have no relevance to current national and global realities to our students at great costs to their parents and at great personal sacrifices to the students only for the students to graduate and discover that their courses of study and knowledge acquired after four to five years of study are not relevant to the job market or incompatible to the issues of relevance in the global marketplace.
“Indeed many Nigerian institutions are still operating with curricula that were last revised in the Sixties and Seventies for a world that is speaking the language of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.” Mr Nwodo called on the Government, the National Universities Commission, the Organized Private Sector and other stakeholders to work harder in cooperation to rescue the educational system and reposition the graduates of our educational system for national relevance and global competitiveness. He also challenged the trainees to make best us of the opportunity afforded by the KEC through the GAP network and go on to conquer the world as ambassadors of a new Nigerian spirit of self belief, personal effectiveness and infinite possibilities.
The event included testimonials from alumni of previous GAP network batches in gainful employment and entrepreneurship and featured goodwill messages from representative of the Lagos State Government, KEC partners, Mentors, Faculty, and Volunteer Consultants.
The Executive Secretary of KEC; Mr Adedapo Ajibade offered a vote of thanks to the participating organizations and supporters, singling out the Lagos State Government for appreciation for the interest of the current administration in the progress and personal development of the youth’s population in Lagos State.
The GAP network is a three months intensive program which culminates in a formal graduation ceremony for the successful trainees after three months. Trainees are exposed to such trainings as Communication skills, Digital marketing skills, Content Marketing skills, etc, receive Career counseling from Professionals, are attached to Professional Business Mentors and undergo internships at reputable partner firms as part of the program.