From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
For a long time, the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu has been in the forefront of the search for solutions to end youth unemployment.
The senator who represents Enugu West has been able to create various jobs opportunities in his constituency in the last 12 years he has been in the National Assembly through his Ikeoha Foundation.
But recently, he was able to find a more lasting solution of taking the youths off the streets and engaging them more meaningfully, when he closed a deal with the Learn and Work European Vocational Institute, a famous institution that has succeeded in reducing unemployment level in other countries of the world.
Ekweremadu had brought the Italian group to Enugu for the formal inauguration of Learn and Work European Vocational Institute, with over 70 trainees becoming the pioneer students.
The new effort it is believed would see unemployed and unskilled persons in the country finally heaving a sigh of relief.
The Institute is part of CEPU Group in Italy, which specialises in training people in several skills, including web design, plumbing, tailoring/dress making, home nursing, air-conditioning services, among others.
It was gathered that after six months or 320 hours of training, the trainee who would be awarded certificates would be expected to be self-reliant, as well as offer their services to employers if they wished to do so.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, Ekweremadu expressed dismay over the high level of unemployment in the country.
He, therefore, advised the Federal and state governments to invest in vocational training and skill acquisition programmes in order to meaningfully engage the youths thereby reducing incidents of crime.
He lamented that unemployment rate had remained high because of the failure of governments to come up with progressive and pragmatic strategies to resolve the challenges.
He stated that it was unfortunate the nation’s higher institutions have continued to churn out graduates who have no hope of getting employed at the end of the day, pointing out that the vocational training would help to engage the youths meaningfully.
He explained that vocational skills when acquired would support the industries, as well as create jobs, saying, “then the economy will grow, our GDP will grow, it’s simple.”
He added that it was unfortunate that the country has not been able to look along that direction.
He noted that in an attempt to create a conducive environment for vocational skills, they had used the machinery of government to create skills acquisition centres in different areas, but expressed sadness that after some years none of the centres has taken off.
He, however, expressed optimism that the Institute would produce a new set of people for the country in particular and Africa in general, adding that they would help to retrain engineers, plumbers, among others, who have failed in their areas of specialisation.
The deputy senate president disclosed that after trying to see what they could do to salvage the situation, they embarked on several trips abroad, adding that they went to India, South Korea, Italy, among others before settling for the institute.
The CEO of Learn and Work, European Vocational School, Mr Giovanni Mearrelli, explained that the CEPU Group is a network of schools and universities for learning from three to 99 years in all fields, adding that two million customers have attested to its success story.
President of the Institute, Dr Francheto Politori, had earlier in his speech identified education as a driving force that would assist nations in their development initiatives, adding that the vocational school was one of their packages for Nigeria.
He also disclosed that plans were underway to organise other types of professional courses, opening of schools starting from kindergarten to high schools and the universities.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi assured of his administration’s readiness to partner with the institute with a view to helping teeming young people in the state.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Chairman of the PDP, Enugu State chapter, Chief Augustine Nnamani, also promised to provide the necessary incentives to ensure the actualisation of the set objectives of the school.
Some of the students, who spoke, showered encomiums on the Learn and Work Vocational Institute for agreeing to come to Enugu.
They expressed optimism that in the nearest future, the rate of unemployment would reduce in the country.