Small and medium scale businesses anywhere in the world serve as a very potent force for job creation, poverty alleviation and overall healthy economic growth. In the last 26 years, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has championed the cause of mass job creation through skill acquisition in the areas of vocation, agriculture, entrepreneurship and business as well as transient job opportunities. As at the end of 2011, over three million unemployed persons have been put to gainful employment by the body through the various programmes. The achievements are attributed to prudent management of resources.
With the advent of oil economy in Nigeria, there has been a systematic abandonment of the agricultural sector through rural-urban drift in search of paid employment which today is almost non-existent. In a bid to awaken the interest of unemployed youths in agriculture and to exploit the tremendous opportunities for employment and wealth creation in the agriculture sector and, consequently, stem the rural-urban drift, the NDE designed training programmes for youths in agriculture. The programme focuses on modern agricultural practices in crop production, crop processing and preservation, livestock production and management and other agro-allied ventures. This is handled under the Rural Agricultural Development Training Scheme (RADTS) at Agricultural Skills Training Centers (ASTC’s) which are established in almost all the states of the federation and Abuja.
The NDE also uses a time- tested systematic process in the creation of new micro enterprises. Through sound entrepreneurship training such as Start Your Own Business training (SYOB), Improve Your Business (IYB) and facilitation of access to soft loans, beneficiaries are ushered into the new world of personal enterprise and are also assisted to remain afloat. Pursuant to her drive to provide capital for these budding businessmen and women, NDE has collaborated with such credit granting institutions like NCRDB, now known as Bank of Agriculture (BOA), NEXIM and NERFUND for start up capital for her beneficiaries.
The Directorate, apart from its regular programmes, introduced new ones targeted at addressing the immediate needs of the economy and supporting the micro-economic policies of the Federal Government. Recently, the NDE launched some job creation schemes in support of the cash-less economy initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It floated the Qik-Qik and Easy-Biz Business Ownership Schemes to create employment opportunities for graduates on the cashless economy platform. The two schemes operate as a suite of services manned by young and well trained Nigerians who offer services on a cash-less basis ranging from air time vending to cash transfers, airline ticket bookings and lottery.
Over the years, the NDE has assisted young Nigerians to become self-employed in diverse fields while equally supporting the new businesses thus created. Micro business concerns created by the NDE have enjoyed the privilege of exposure to world class business platforms. The body’s beneficiaries are regular participants/exhibitors at the three major international trade fairs in Nigeria namely: Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos International Trade Fairs.
It buys an entire pavilion and allows its beneficiaries to exhibit their goods and services therein at no cost to them. This way, the beneficiaries are able to rub shoulders with already established businesses. In the last two years, NDE has organised her own home-grown trade fairs designed specifically for her programme beneficiaries in order to stimulate commerce at the grassroots through what it calls ‘’NDE Zonal Domestic Trade Fairs’’.
The challenges notwithstanding, the Directorate has vigorously pursued its mandate of mass job creation through collaboration with stakeholders such as National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the Vice President, Office of the First Lady, the National Assembly, NGOs, faith and community based organizations.