The greatest cause of frustration among Nigerian youths and graduates is unemployment. It is a fact that there are limited jobs and employment opportunities for the mammoth youths scavenging for jobs across the country.
As a nation, it should bother us that several brilliant minds are yearly churned out from our Ivory Towers and other institutions of higher learning, yet, they cannot contribute their quota to nation building and societal development.
The system on which our institutions are built has failed to highlight the need for self-employment or entrepreneurship as the genuine tools and remedies for unemployment. Rather, students are only bombarded with theoretical knowledge, instead of practical and productive knowledge of self-empowerment.
Entrepreneurship development is a veritable tool in improving the livelihood of people, be it economic, social standard, among others. Entrepreneurship facilitates economic expansion and growth, while enhancing market competition. Thus, one can authoritatively assert that entrepreneurship is a major factor in the growth of any economy.
Perhaps, and in line with its culture of empowering graduates for self-sustenance, the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) was directed by the Federal Government in 2012 to establish the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme (SAED) to proffer solutions to the menace of unemployment in the country.
When the department was created, it was charged with the responsibility of sensitising corps members and providing them with practical entrepreneurship knowledge and self-employment programmes. With collaborations from both public and private sectors, the initiative was implemented with full force. Hence, it is still thriving robustly, eight years after its establishment, with remarkable success stories.
The SAED programme is also aimed at promoting self-reliance in the minds of Nigerian graduates by equipping them with both theoretical and practical knowledge on entrepreneurship, with a view to boosting the economy and curbing unemployment. The training which takes off during the orientation exercise continues after the threeweek camping period, running through over the service year based on the learning module of the trainers.
This essential initiative of the NYSC focuses on 12 major business areas and sub-areas covering agro-allied, culture and tourism, food processing and preservation, ICT, construction, environment, power and energy, education, film and photography, cosmetology, beautification as well as automobile.
However, there is still a need for the SAED programme to be properly rejigged and carefully reviewed to address identified challenges in terms of establishing and growing business outfits by the trainees.
It is gratifying that after the training exercise certificates are issued to the graduates, which they can use to secure loans from private and even government financial institutions like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Bank of Industry (BoI), to mention a few.
But as a result of the bureaucratic processes put in place by financial institutions, most budding youth entrepreneurs find it difficult to access the funds for their business enterprises.
For SAED to attain its full objectives, it is paramount that the NYSC management should intervene and be actively involved in the process of securing loans for ex-SAED trainees with bankable business proposals.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, on its part, should inject massive funds into the programme so as to empower more graduates, and in the long run, address the issue of youth unemployment decisively.