Hammed Shittu writes that in a quest to reduce crime wave in Kwara State and for young people to be self-reliant, the state government is set to open a vocational centre for skill acquisition. Kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution, among others have continued to be major factors that are inhibiting the socio-economic growth of the nation. These activities are commonly being undertaken by youths as a means of making ends meet due to lack of employment opportunities.
The ugly situation has become worrisome for every stakeholder in the country and they have been working round the clock in order to nip the situation in the bud so as to improve the socio- well-being of the populace.
Even, government at all levels have also designed a platform in their respective states, local and federal in order to curtail these activities and thereby creating way to find another way on how the youths can be engaged for the overall development of the polity.
Perhaps that search for peace across the states led the Kwara State government under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to establish an International vocational centre located in Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun local government council of the state so as to engage youths in acquisition of skills for the creation of wealth for the socio economic development of the state. The vocational centre which is of the international standard, when completed, is to gulp a sum of N2.1billion.
The centre which is expected to assist the youths to be trained in entrepreneur skills like, marine, oil and gas, electrical, port operations, agriculture, hospitality and catering, engineering, construction skills, fashion design and textiles among others, would assist the youths to be self- reliant.
Also, it will be noted that the administration has employed 2,000 youths into the private and public establishments in the state under the state bridge empowerment scheme. Out of this number, the present administration employed 1000 into the state public service as part of efforts to reduce youth unemployment in the state.
However, the commitment to establish the international vocational centre at Ajase-Ipo was to complement this giant stride in the fight against unemployment as the youths will be exposed to the acquisition of skills that would make them to be gainfully employed rather than depending on the government at all times for white collar jobs.
The state governor, Alhaji Ahmed while speaking at the official laying ceremony of the centre recently said that, any serious effort to transform the lives of the people must incorporate youth economic empowerment.
This, he said would go a long way to reduce insecurity and therefore accelerating the socio-well -being of the populace.
Ahmed said that establishment of the centre would prepare the youths to be self sustaining and this would assist them to contribute their quota towards the socio-economic advancement of the state. He said, "I identified youth empowerment through job creation as a cardinal focus of this administration alongside other key policy areas and this is based on the recognition that youths constitute seventy per cent of our population and are significant agents of positive change if properly harnessed."
Ahmed added," In recognition of this, we have since created jobs for 2,000 youths, absorbed 1,430 of these future leaders into the state civil service and brokered 10, 000 public works jobs through the Federal Government".
He stated further that, "laying the foundation of the International Vocation Centre is another firm step towards transforming our youths into successful economic actors".
"Our determination is to create a market-relevant and business-focused curriculum for the center. We would consult the business community, especially the National Employers Consultative Association (NECA) so as to design a robust, economy-based curriculum for this center".
"The primary objective of the vocational training centre is to modernise vocational training effectiveness and efficiency, whilst delivering world class performance in all its operations and it will turn Senior Secondary School leavers, Polytechnic and University graduates into a well-trained technicians and artisans ready to create jobs and contribute to the state economy," he said.
Governor Ahmed maintained that, "At the end of the training period, successful students will be awarded globally-recognised certificates and diplomas moderated by the London-based City and Guilds and curriculum for the centre has been structured to address the need to meet not only international standards but also industry and business needs."
He therefore said that, once this centre becomes operational, Kwara State will become the hub for vocational skills in the West Africa sub-region while creating massive youth jobs, thereby reducing insecurity within our state and beyond.
To enhance the status of the centre, the state government is collaborating with the City and Guilds, London so as to assist the students that would be graduating from the institute to have a world class recognised certificate.
The Regional Head of Africa for City and Guild, Mr. Juan Vissser in a chat with newsmen in Ilorin on the collaboration said that the partnership between the state government and City and Guild (C&G) of London would help in the quality of training to be offered at the Institute.
He said that the interaction between the C&G team and the state government showed high level commitment by the state government to making the centre an international institute.
Visser said that his team was excited by the concept, the background and the delivery of the International Vocational Centre, assuring that the qualification that would be offered at the centre would be 'recognised on many frameworks around the world including the national framework of the United Kingdom and the training would be equivalent to what you will get in top notch schools in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Dubai."
He pointed out further that government would enlist private sector support that would attract key industries such as oil and gas, food and beverages, electrical and electronics, general manufacturing, mining and mineral processing, fashion, and hotels and restaurants.
He explained that, the whole project will cost about $65 million and it would be in three phases and will take five years.
He also said that, the courses that would be thought at the college in terms would include; Engineering & Automotive, Construction, Vocational and Entrepreneurial Development Centre for first year students, while the year two students would be taken courses in Fashion & Textile, and Agriculture while the year three students would be undertaking courses in Hospitality and Catering, Marine Engineering and Port Operation.
Visser therefore said that, the general subjects would be on business skills, marketing, sales, IT, Entrepreneurship, Business, Finance
In addition, he said that, the centre would be supported by three incubation centres where graduates will receive practical, real-life training before going out to start work life. Those interested will also receive soft loans to set up businesses.
Responding, Ahmed said that, the International Vocational Centre was established to solve huge national unemployment problem due to the absence of well-trained technical hands to man critical areas of the national economy.
According to him, "The reason why there is a huge group of unemployed people is not unconnected with the fact that the area that is supposed to support them to become entrepreneurs has largely been neglected. Thus, there is a huge gap between the transition from secondary and higher education with poorly trained people."
He explained that the curricular of the Vocational Centre were informed by the results of needs assessments in critical sectors such as Marine, Electrical, Construction and Oil and gas industries.
Now, with the establishment of the centre and collaboration with the C and G on the provision of standard acquisition of skills for the teeming youths at the centre, the desire of the state government to empower the youths and creation of wealth for the teeming populace of the state remains a giant stride.